What is death but not a reminder to live?
Where do we go after we die? Will we see the dead again? When will we die? And how would it be? That would be the question of everyone on the first encounter with death, especially of someone close to them.
I have asked this myself, time and time again, especially when my very own beloved grandmother, Ah Ma, passed away. I felt her leave as her body gave away. It was a strange feeling. Feeling of emptiness where a body now lays, only a shell. So yes, there must be a soul and our temporal physical body is nothing but a vehicle for us to experience this thing we call life. If death is such a natural part of birth and living, why then are we so afraid of it and why do we mourn about it?
“Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead. So why, one could say, be afraid of death, when death comes all the time?”
When we fall in love, it is like just like we say it, we fall. It is a sudden bang, a fall into the abyss of comforts. It hits us and then we are in it, envelope by happiness. Then everything seem more real, life seems more alive and you seem more you.
When we grief, it is a long and slow process. We do not fall. It is like standing at the edge, inching little by little towards the fall, but never truly getting there. The ledge appears at the news of a loved one’s death, but you never really believe it is there. Sometimes you brush against the tip of it and a huge darkness engulfs your heart. You knew deep inside that, that someone is gone, never again to be touched, to be laughed with, to be spoken to, and you weep.
Maybe sometimes we should allow grief to embrace us, and us to embrace it. To embrace pain is to acknowledge that we are only human. It is one of these moments that remind us truly where we stand in the grand scheme of things. We are nothing.
We are like a snowflake in a winter snowfall, a short glorious time when we get to descend onto earth, each with our own unique pattern. We shine in the reflection of the sun, we dance together with our fellows and we take over the land as we rest. Then we melt and became one again and then comes the time when we go back to where we came from, up in the clouds.
“…for you are dust, and to dust, you shall return”
To linger is to not discount the fact that the pain is real. To linger is not to discount the fact that the dead had once lived, and that the life is not gone after death. The memory remains in the ones you love.
“You die the second time when the last person who remembers you dies”
So the only real meaning of this short snowlike existence is to love as furiously as you can and to leave as many good impressions to those around you as you can. How else is there to live in the knowing of one true end of every life, and that is death?
I think of my Ah Ma, now and then, and I believe I will never stop doing so.
“She crosses my mind like a spring cardinal that flies past the edge of your eye: startling, luminous, lovely, gone.”
There will come a time when it is my turn to give away. To close my eyes and never have it open again. To go back to where I came from. To return and nourish the energy that sustains the universe, the everything.
“We die so that the world may continue to live.”
Quotes credits: John Updike, Genesis, Radiolab, Meghan O’Rourke and Sherwin B. Nuland. Also credits to brainpickings.org for many ruminations.