the skull by the bedside

Life is fleeting and recently I featured a short video where it was recommended (only partly in jest) that we keep a skull at our bedside as a reminder.

I am at the age where friends and acquaintances are sometimes diagnosed with cancers or brain tumors and we marvel at how they are still too young to face such challenges; except our mortality doesn’t play favorites and it can come fetch us at any time. I lost a close colleague to pancreatic cancer a few years ago who never made it to 60.

Thinking this way does not make me despondent but instead reminds me how important it is to treasure every moment of our existence. There are so many things we stress about that have no value and they evaporate into nothingness a short while later. Hopefully I am becoming wiser as I age and learning to be more discerning about what to give importance to.

The fact is that I don’t think about my mortality enough for if I did I would really learn to truly live my life one precious day at a time; no dwelling on the past and no fretting about the future. But alas, we are mere mortals who cannot seem to get things as right as we would like.

It's certainly not for lack of trying.

Image result for painting holding a skull


  1. I can almost chronicle my adult trans life by the deaths of family and friends. Each time I have had to watch a loved one die, I have been made aware of regrets, both theirs and mine.

    Ten-and-a-half years ago, I lost my mother and my brother (only sibling) to cancer in the same month. I had only been testing the waters outside my closet for a year before they passed away, but I wasn't ready to come out to either of them (they both knew of my cross dressing when I was young, but that was a family secret that was never even mentioned among the three of us). My regret is that I never allowed them the chance to meet and get to know the daughter/sister they could have had.

    I had come out to my sister-in-law a couple of years before she was diagnosed with cancer. It took her some time, but she eventually came to fully accept me as I was. In fact, we were good girlfriends and shared things we never would have had I not come out to her. I couldn't visit her in the hospital during her last days, because, although I had been living as a woman 95% of the time, there were other family members who were unaware. I did talk to her on the phone the night before she passed away, and I told her how sorry I was that I couldn't see her. She was so gracious and understanding, yet I felt regret and guilt for it seeming to be more about my problem than it was about hers.

    An old friend learned through the grapevine of my transition. He expressed that he had no interest in seeing me as a woman. When he was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago, I was distraught. I could communicate through his wife, but not directly with him. Shortly before his passing, he wanted to celebrate his final birthday by getting the old gang together for a party. I was surprised to learn that I was invited. We had shared birthday celebrations many times over the years, as our birthdays were just one day apart in May. I had separated myself from that group for reasons I shouldn't have to explain here, but this was my chance to rid myself of some regrets. Again, though, I certainly didn't want to cause a scene or have it be about ME. So, it turned out that nobody really cared, anyway. My birthday friend gave me a big hug and told me he was sorry that he wouldn't be around long enough to get to know me all over again. He lost his battle just two weeks later, last June.

    For my brother's memorial service, I changed the lyrics to "My Way" to"Tom's Way" and sang it with a throat so tight I couldn't believe I would finish. I did, though, and I had hidden lines in the song that were a coming out of sorts. The eulogy I delivered for my mother included her final words, "It's nobody's fault." I choose to believe she was referring to my gender identity, but it may just have been her way of making a last confession in general. I both sang and did the eulogy at my sister-in-law's Mass four years ago. I wore the last pieces of my male wardrobe, a suit and tie. The words I wrote were much more personal than anyone there could know. I'm pretty good at making double meanings, after all :-). That was the last time I presented as my old self.

    I didn't speak at my friend's service. All had been said in that one last hug. I had nothing to hide anymore, either. I am free, and thanking God that I have had the chance to be myself. There have been other deaths in my life, as well, and I'm sure there will be more. It is with pure joy that I can be honest in every relationship I have, and others will know who I am, even to my last day when they can remember who I was (and always meant to be). No more regrets.

    1. Life does not spare any of us pain Connie and I thank you for your brutal honesty here in sharing your tough experience. It is sometimes the only way to grow into ourselves it seems. But as we share with each other our pain it helps others to realize how much another can bear and come our whole on the other side ;)

    2. I've made a vow to be honest. My Grandfather, who was very successful in the insurance business, used to joke that "honesty is the best policy." I have to add to that; it's a whole- life policy. :-)


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