Life’s a bitch and then you die.
We’ve all heard this concise take on nihilism. Harsh isn’t it? The meaning is that life is hard, there’s no meaning to the struggle, and in the end, what do we get for it? Annihilation. Blackness. Death is the ultimate defeat that awaits us after all of this struggle. And, frankly, sometimes that sounds pretty good compared to the pain here.
There’s no denying that life is hard. Each of us feels it at some point in our lives, some more than others. And, I think most of us think its particularly hard for us, individually. Other people’s lives seem to be going so well. They don’t have the insecurities we have. They don’t have the financial troubles. They aren’t dealing with an illness or an injury. Or so, we think. We all put on our shiny happy faces for each other wanting to appear healthy, wanting to look like we have it all together, then we go into our rooms and cry ourselves to sleep. Sometimes, we want it all to be over. We grow incredibly weary of the struggle. Nothing we do seems to be working out. And then we hear, life’s a bitch and then we die. Why not die now and get it over? Let’s bypass the hard part and take that dirt nap.
I was thinking about this phrase and playing with the words when it struck me; the conjunction is all wrong. Life is hard and then we die is incorrect. Life is hard but then we die is more accurate. This came to me as I was listening to the near-death experience of Tricia Barker. I met Tricia on Facebook a while ago. I saw that she was teaching a writing workshop that I signed up for. I’ve asked her to speak to Helping Parents Heal and she will in the next couple of months. All of this has happened in the last few weeks. Today, when I was choosing a podcast for my walk, I started to play the latest episode of Exploring Death, and the guest was…. Tricia. Interesting timing since I will meet Tricia this evening. I listened to Tricia’s story for the first time. When she was a 22-year-old senior in college and struggling to find the meaning in life, she had an NDE after a nearly fatal car accident. When she described the beauty, love, and peace of being back Home, I thought about this. She was shocked at how good she felt to be dead.
Life’s a bitch, but then you die
Life is a bitch, but then we get to die. This turns the phrase right on its head. Death is not the end. Death is the culmination, the graduation, the payoff. Even at 22 years old, Tricia felt great to be Home.
However, the death experience was not the end of Tricia’s story. As good as it felt, Tricia didn’t stay dead. She was shown people here on Earth that she was meant to come back and teach. Tricia’s mission, at 22 years old, was not over. It was just beginning. I firmly believe that we each signed up on a mission to be here. And, not only that, we come in teams. We have responsibilities to our teammates and to those we are here to serve. Our teammates cannot accomplish their missions without us here to fulfill our roles. At times, these decades we spend here feel like eons, especially when some of our team members complete their assignments early and head back to base before us. But, one day, it’ll seem like the blink of an eye, the way our childhoods look to us now that we are adults.
This life is very similar to being in college. We sign up. We know it’s going to be hard, but we want that accomplishment, that degree. My four years in Chemical Engineering were hell. 8 AM chemistry classes winter quarter, 8 hour days spent in the lab in the operations course one summer. There were many times when the point was lost on me; I lost sight of the goal. I barely made it through. And, once I got that degree, I thought I knew what my life would hold. But, I had no clue. I haven’t worked a single day of my life as a chemical engineer. I’ve had more jobs than I care to count. I’ve switched careers twice. When I graduated from college, I hadn’t even been on a date. I could never have predicted I’d have a marriage of 28 years, an amazing wife, and two beautiful and accomplished daughters one day. There were many times when I thought my young life wasn’t going where I thought it should go and wanted it to just be over because I didn’t have the vision to know where it might even possibly go.
I study NDEs and the afterlife nearly every day, not solely as a form of escape from this world. I study it to give meaning to this world, to keep in mind that there is meaning to the mission and the pain. I need to remind myself that something greater awaits me at graduation. Graduation, not dropping out. There are people here who depend on me. I depend on me to do what I set out to do, no matter how tough it might seem at times.
As I was listening to Tricia’s story, I couldn’t help thinking of my 22-year-old, Kayla. Kayla and I talked last night about her closing out her senior year. What a journey she has taken in her short years here. I marvel when I look at Kayla. She’s finishing up her last year in college and has decisions to make about her future. I know they must seem overwhelming. I know she feels like she’s been in school forever. The dark days of winter are nearly upon us, and she’s at Toledo, of all places. My sun worshipping daughter is about to endure her last winter of her last year in the tundra of Toledo, OH. As close as the finish line is, these last few weeks will be hard. I remember those days. No one who has lived for any amounof time can refute the fact that life’s a bitch. There’s a lot of beauty along the way, for sure. But, it’s a hard trek. Almost every Shining Light Parent I know believes in reincarnation and says we have no plans do to this again. But, I know that our family, Shayna, Kayla, Tywana, and I, have things, great things, yet to accomplish before the “but”. Then we will have conquered. And, then we party like it’s 1999.