I am around death more than the average person. It comes with the job. Thankfully, the departed I have cared for have not been anyone familiar to me. This is an inevitability though that I am not prepared for. I have had to re-reconcile my feelings toward death so I can do the work that I love so. It has sparked some long thoughtful walks. This year I lost several important people that I knew not only as a child, but also as an adult. I am still processing the fact that they are gone, the impact they had on me and our relationship over the years. This is what we are all left with after somebody passes away. In our culture (I use the term loosely) death is not part of life. We don't talk about it and we don't deal well with it. I am witness to how awkwardly the details are handled, how little the extended family is involved. I hear over and over again the "coulda, woulda, shouldas." They are unnerving to me. I am driven to navigate my interactions with a different zeal. I say to myself "I don't know if this will be our last conversation - how will you remember me?" It is no longer conscious but it was at a time. Sounds crazy, I know. I am not a different person because of this change. I still shoot from the hip and make some pretty spectacular mistakes. But I have allowed myself the emotional freedom to tell the lovelies in my life how I feel about them. And also to stay clear of those I know to be unhealthy. It is not that I believe life to be short or that karma is instant. It is just that life is quite unexpected. My current theory on the meaning of life is get to the end of it with as few "coulda, woulda, shouldas" as possible.