I've always had the mentality that death is the only certainty in life - it's perfectly normal and when it happens, it happens. I don't believe in heaven or hell, or any kind of afterlife. I think that when you die, that's it. Lights out. You don't know any better. My mom died when I was 12 years old. She had suffered from a lung disease for two years, so when she passed away, it was a relief in many ways. Sure, I was sad, but I was also thankful that she was no longer suffering. Even at the age of 12, I wasn't afraid of death.
Shortly before she died, she sat on the couch between my sister and I, hugging us both, to talk about our futures without her. She expressed how sad she was that she wouldn't be at our high school graduations or our weddings, or be there when we had our own babies. It seemed difficult for her to get these words out. My sister and I both cried, but told her that she shouldn't worry because she was going to get better and she would be there for all of our big life events. I believe she died a couple weeks later, maybe sooner.
Over the past 18 years, I've never been sad that my mom hasn't been here for big moments. That is, until the day Addison was born. Becoming a mother changed my perspective, and the vulnerability of bringing life into this world left me feeling very sad for my mom. I can only imagine how difficult it was for her to look at us every day, knowing that her days were numbered. Sometimes when I look at Addison, usually when she's sleeping or nursing, my mind wanders to thoughts of how little time we might have together. One day, I will die and she will be without a mother. I hope that day comes long after her high school graduation, her wedding, and the births of her own babies. I've also thought about the possibility that one day, I might be the one losing a daughter. It's possible that she will die before me, and I hope that day never comes.
Becoming a mother has changed me in one very deep way - I can now say I am scared of dying. And I've realized that a side effect of being scared of dying is finally feeling that life is a gift.