For the Daily Prompt: dim.
A friend has lost a teenage daughter to death.
I hope that where the daughter is, is beauty.
I am at the lake. There are younger people with me. We go to the graveyard. The earth is soft and loose. There are no markers or stones. We do not need them.
“I can feel the people in the earth.” says one of the younger people.
“Me too!” says another.
“Of course.” I say. I name the people under the earth and introduce them. The young people are amazed. I am surprised that they have never felt the dead. I think the cities and concrete and phones and television and computers: all of these must block the signals. But we never allowed electricity here. The phones don’t work. Candles, aladdin lamps, propane stoves and heat with wood in old cabins. Thin shacks where we hear the wind and water, and tents, lying in the embrace of the earth.
We leave but when we come back, the young start to reach down into the soft earth, arms length. “Did they die young?” one asks. “We want to know more.”
“You must be patient.” I say. “Don’t push the dead.”
Later I return a third time to sit quietly alone with the dead. Dark falls, moonless, overcast, no stars. I stand to return to the cabins and my flashlight dies. I know the paths well, but not the path to the graveyard. I tie up my long skirt and kneel. I feel the ground gently. Yes, I can feel the path. I start to crawl slowly, stopping to feel the packed worn earth. I think of wolves and cougars but none have been here for years. It is not cold enough for exposure. It is just dark and slow. The dead are with me and approve.
My biggest piece of advice to young singles and young couples is: put half of each take home salary away. Married or not married, and I don’t care how committed you are.
I know people who lose their house when one half of a couple is sick, and the other can’t pay all the bills on one salary. We don’t want to think about illness or cancer, but it happens. Young parents, with one very ill and the other with a job, children and a sick spouse. Having a reserve is way more important than keeping up with the Joneses, unless you happen to inherit like Mr. Trump.
If you each put half of your take home salary away, then when life throws surprises at you, you will have a reserve. A big reserve if the surprises hold off for a while. Divide that half into retirement and half into money that you have access to in emergencies.
I listed the top ten causes of death in the US in 2012 here, but lets look by age: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/leading_causes_of_death_by_age_group_2012-a.pdf.
From age 1 to 44 the top cause of death is accidents, unintentional injuries.
Suicide is second from age 15 to 44.
Cancer takes over as number one, malignant neoplasms, at age 45 to 65.
After 65, the number one cause of death is the heart, and that is where the biggest numbers are. But if a younger cause of death affects your family, it feels unfair, wrong, as if we all expect to like to age 78 or beyond.
Untintentional injury, that is, accidents, are broken down here: http://www.cdc.gov/injury. When I do physicals on teens, I ask them what the number one cause of death is for teens. They all know the answer, even if they have to think for a moment: motor vehicle accidents.
But lets look at accidents in the age 25-65 age group: poisonings. What? Poisoning? And NOT intentional…. what is going on there? It is drugs, legal and illegal, but more legal. Sedating drugs in combination are effective at sedating people enough to stop breathing and die. Alcohol with benzodiazepines (valium, ativan, etc.), opiates and opioids, sleep medicines such as ambien and sonata, withdrawal from methamphetamines, cocaine, crack….people die. And supplements may be contributing as well.
75 years of US mortality data: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db88.pdf#x2013;2010%20
At birth now in the US the life expectancy averages 78, but not everyone reaches that….some people still die younger and some live longer.
The age of death is rising, world wide. In the US, many of us have a world envied standard of living and yet we have a significant number of people who are anxious and depressed and way too high a rate of substance abuse, alcohol, opiates and opioids, benzodiazepines and yes, marijuana is addictive. How do I reconcile this? How do you reconcile this?
Keep your reserve, young singles and young couples…..
As of the day I am writing this on 5/2/16:
Numbers to be corrected, first set was wrong, wrong, wrong.
I took the photograph yesterday evening: there were the most amazing Maxfield Parish clouds…. life and death are a mystery.
Sing for the girls who grow up in war zones.
Sing for the girls who grow up scared.
Sing for the girls who grow up abused.
Sing for the girls unprepared.
Sing for the girls who grow up with alcohol.
Sing for the girls who grow in broken homes.
Sing for the girls who don’t tell anyone.
Sing for the girls alone.
Sing for the girls who grow up beaten.
Sing for the girls who grow up raped.
Sing for the girls who care for siblings.
Sing for the girls who learn to hate.
Sing for the women who now look frozen.
Sing for the women who now look old.
Sing for the women who survived it anyway.
Sing for the women who told.
Sing for the girls who grow up broken.
Sing for the girls who break everything.
Sing for the girls who break the silence.
We are broken and breaking: sing.
I took the photograph at the US Synchronized Swimming Nationals in 2012.