"This world is only a stage in some longer journey we do not understand. To fall in love with our physical beauty, wealth, health, or capacity for pleasure is to kid ourselves, because all that will be taken away. … The only thing that gives our choices any deep significance is the fact that none of this will last. Awareness of mortality gives relationships an urgency, makes our choices matter."
I don't think the importance of our choices imposed by mortality is disputable. For me, there's a special poignancy and urgency in those choices, imposed by a body that doesn't reflect my spirit and the hopelessness of attaining one that matches close enough to embrace the fullness of relationships without an operation that will cost nearly $20,000. My choices in the past have precluded the possibility of obtaining the funds necessary. Heading into the simultaneous transitions of adolescence and middle-age, the urgency of mortality imposes an impossible catch-22: how do I prepare for aging and death when I want so badly to live fully, and how do I live fully when I want so badly to die.
There is certainly a part of me that will welcome death, welcome death as a lover, embrace that oblivion and the release from this body that is a prison more cruel than concrete walls. That part is overwhelmed, however, by its twin, the love of life, the urgency – desperation! – to live each day fully, to embrace every moment of every possibility of every relationship I have as a woman. If I could change this body I would do so, I want release from it so badly. Yet I cling to it, precious as it allows me into the grace and beauty of this life in all its complexity, contradiction, and ambiguity. Yet the possibility of the lycanthropic transformation that will enable the greatest extent of my self's manifestation is precluded by a single line item exclusion in my employer's health plan – an exclusion specific to my diagnosis, specific to my personal demographic. Were I to suffer from a different ailment, this treatment would be available. This exclusion is reserved for transgendered people, because, obviously, our medical needs don't matter.
For most people, the urgency of adolescence is self-centered exploration of identity and sexuality and a passage into the responsibilities and privileges of adulthood. For me, the urgency is to delay the onset of old age long enough to explore any aspect of my sexuality at all, and to do it with the full burden of family and parenting. At the same time, that family, those children, are the center of the richness of my life.
And so I face the looming specter of old age and death with bitterness and gratitude, and a crowning conundrum: How do I enter gracefully into that good night?
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.