Thursday, June 25, 2009

“The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.”

It happens and in every case, we are all shocked. No matter the situation, no matter if we are prepared for the inevitable, no matter if we knew it was coming, death always shocks us. It is always sudden, always enduring, but in both instances, there is the shock.

We lost my grandfather four years ago. 80 years old, a smoker all his life, and he died suffering, drowning in disease and infection. At the end, he didn't know us. At the end, after weeks of suffering, a blink, it seemed, from the initial diagnosis, weeks of my mother's frustration, sadness, and utter grief, he closed his eyes and then...just wasn't. There would be no more tall tales, no more laughter, no more of the same stories being told over and over. It divided our family. It overwhelmed my mother and left her the responsibility of being care giver and designated mother to her own. Life had begun 80 years before in a bright roaring thunder and ended in a an exhale and whimper. Death came to my grandfather but left its mark on all of us.

What did it teach us? Many things, it turned out. It taught us that he was the anchor steadying our very turbulent family. He was the core of the family unit. He was the most beloved of us all and with his death, that was torn a part, the anchor unequivocally dismantled. It taught me that smoking, obviously, is a very stupid thing to do. It's a time bomb ticking through your body, exploding with absolute precision.

But death, it should be understood, is always inevitable and should be anticipated.

We mourn for our loss. We feel the shock, the shattering well of sorrow not for the loss of a loved one,but for the absence constructed in our own lives. We are all selfish creatures, all focused on what a death will mean for us, whether it is intentional or not, it is our own self awareness that affects us. We cry, we moan, we shake our hand at God because this 'lost someone' will be missing from OUR lives...from OUR realities.

Rather than understanding, accepting that the loss is certain, that it is the departed that has been most affected, we reel against what death will mean for US and in the process, we ignore the lesson that we should learn: That tomorrow is as uncertain as the true agenda of a politician and that not one of us can predict when our turn will come.

So, what
should we learn? What should be the final lesson? Today we are here and tomorrow is not meant to be a moment of reflection. Life happens quickly and death is a selfish creature, it wants us all, it wants us when we are unprepared and unwilling to bend to its will.

Live today.
LIVE. It's all any of us can do. Do not mourn for the passing of a loved one, of a stranger, of an enemy. Do not reflect on their failings, their misgivings, their sins because, eventually, we all take the same path, we all end our journey at the same destination and the road we walked to get there was our own making, our own choices. Live while you can, while you are able. Tomorrow only exists on the "calendar of fools."

“Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.”

No comments: