In Death as in Life

Nobody wants to get old. Getting old isn’t beautiful.

If we are honest with ourselves most of us look at the elderly with at least a slight feeling of revulsion in the pit of our stomachs. We feel this way only because it triggers fear within us. The fear of aging is not only the product of our own vanity but also the realization that the end is near. We want to presume, “it will never be me. I will never let myself get that old, that wrinkled, that stooped. I will never have that funk of age or skin like paper perforated with brown spots and bulging blue veins”.

But we will.

And we will wonder how we got there and how we let ourselves get this way.
photo wedding

But until I sat with my Mama* and held her hand, watched her breath get shallow and her eyes grow heavy I did not know this secret. Right before you die you become beautiful again.

The people that love you will gather by your bedside. They will marvel at the brightness and depth of your eyes. They will caress and wonder at the softness of your skin. They will clean you lovingly and brush your hair into place. They will be enamored with every wrinkle and with every imperfection that makes you unique. They will drink in the sweetness of your whispers and treasure every little snore as you rest and every breath that comes after a long silence. There is no insincerity in this admiration. It is pure.

Angela Josephine Fenech, nineteen years old, on her wedding day.

Angela Josephine Fenech, 19 years old, on her wedding day.

There is a strange but fragile beauty in death.

For those last few weeks, days and hours before death we will be young again. Beautiful in the eyes of those that love you. We will forget every wrinkle and every spot.

And we will die as beautiful and as precious as the day we were born.





* Mama was my name for my grandmother, Angela.