Denying death is like trying to deny our arm. It’s there. Living as if it isn’t doesn’t make it not exist. Pretending doesn’t dissolve its influence - it might even heighten the effect. This is why it’s so important for us to take our mortality out of the closet—not only to diminish the dysfunc- tion but to receive the reward - a gem of presence, real, in-the-moment awareness of life that is the sweet spot, the exquisiteness at the center of what feels really hard. It’s like the Ugli fruit - lumpy, blotched, pockmarked - it’s hard to imagine the tender sweetness within but there it is. Not to diminish the sadness or grief, not to make light of the loss that accompanies death. On the contrary, being aware of the sweetness at center honors the moment and honors the people.
And yes, it often feels like too much. Life’s busy and we have no time. But busy and no time are just symptoms of a greater ailment. What’s often really happening is we’re not here in the right now. We’re either worrying about tomorrow or ruminating about yesterday. The gift of illness is it forces us to view the world squarely, at least for a moment, in a different way. But we don’t need to wait to get sick to transform our perspective. Getting present to death helps us get present to life. There’s no reason to wait. There’s so much insight (sight into your self) to gain and noth- ing to lose—prepared or not, we still die, we still have untold loss, the Ugli fruit is still ugly on the outside, but on the inside, in the middle of the hard - there’s something of value.
Unfortunately, not knowing this and the ugly looking so ugly and the painful being so searing we just do our best to keep it all at bay - why wouldn’t we? Because the suffering doesn’t cease. Because the wound doesn’t fully heal and remains tender to the touch. Because we think once we go to our hurt places we may never come back or never stop crying but that’s not true. There are layers, a peel, a bumpy inexplicable yellow fruit of ugly and hard with something soft, nourish- ing and enriching for our beings and our lives at the center of it all.