Can death be prevented? This is a discussion that’s come up so very often in life these past two years during this pandemic. For each person on this planet, I’m sure their answer would be different. For me, I’ve felt for a long time now that our deaths in this world are preset, that when it’s our time to go, it’s our time and nothing can prevent that. But just as true, when it isn’t our time to go, something will prevent our deaths from happening. Watching my father’s repeated and unsuccessful attempts at suicide during much of my adolescence was when I first began to feel this way.
His first attempt came when I was 8. He had walked into the local apple orchard that bordered our neighborhood. There he drank a whole bottle of vodka in extremely cold weather, putting himself into a coma. Someone oddly enough found him deep in that orchard that day, getting to him just in time, where the doctors said he should have died from it, but thankfully he didn’t. Years later, he attempted it again when he swam well out into the frigid-cold winter waters of the Long Island Sound late one night, so far out that there was no way he’d make it back in without dying of hypothermia. As he waited for sure death, he said a set of circular lights appeared and surrounded him in the freezing water, where it warmed him up, and pushed him back to shore. When my father finally died during his last suicide attempt many years after that, it was no different from any of his prior attempts. So why were none of the prior attempts successful, when the last one was? I spent years pondering this until I finally accepted that “something” beyond my understanding must be in control when it’s our time to go and not us and I’ve chosen to label that “something” over the years as God. While that didn’t make it any less painful to deal with, it helped immensely in accepting my father’s tragic passing, especially when I saw how many good things never would have happened in my own life if any of those earlier attempts had been successful.
Not too long after his death, I dealt with this again with a friend I’ll refer to as “G”. “G” attempted suicide three times. The first time was after swallowing a whole bottle of pills where 911 got to them just in time. The second was when they tried to asphyxiate himself from carbon monoxide fumes from a tube they connected from their tailpipe into his car window, when an off-duty cop randomly found them there and got to them just in time. And the third, was when they fully loaded a revolver and tried to shoot themselves, where the first pull of the trigger ended up being a blank! I’m thankful to say that today they are alive and well, running a business and far healthier.
While these two stories deal specifically with suicide, there are plenty of others I’ve come to know over the years through my volunteer work where I’ve learned of people who should have died from various things from accidents to diseases to addiction but didn’t and went on to have drastically altered lives because of it, many becoming selfless and humanitarian in the process. I should include my own life here because I’ve skirted death multiple times myself. One instance when I used to deal drugs as a young kid, where the expensive gold jewelry I wore out one night, that I almost didn’t wear out that night but felt compelled to do so, ended up being the very thing that saves me from being murdered by rival drug dealers who used my jewelry as collateral.
All of this has led to me approaching death so very differently these days. While all death is tragic of course and painful to go through no matter what the cause, I accept that when someone dies now, it’s just their time, and couldn’t have been prevented. It’s how I’ve dealt with all the tragedy of COVID-19 thus far. So many have died during this pandemic, especially the non-vaccinated, but what if it was just their time? Maybe they would have died from some other tragedy around the same exact time in their life, even if they had been vaccinated? There was a great non-fiction book I once read that dealt with this concept. It was called “The Afterlife of Billy Fingers” and was originally suggested to me by my dear friend Caryn. It really helped to solidify much of my inner spiritual beliefs surrounding death.
Regardless, at my core spiritual essence now, I accept God is in charge of when it’s my turn to go. If it’s my time and God’s ready for my life-force to leave this plane of existence, I’m convinced it’s going to happen, not a day sooner, and not a day later, and not within my control. On some level, maintaining this belief has really helped me to live far more at peace during this terrible pandemic, rather than living in fear surrounding it, which sadly seems to continue to consume the majority these days…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson