“It’s better to feel too much than too little,” states Melanie’s lj header.
And it’s so true.
However, it is in the moments of death and despair when we wonder if we would rather be feeling nothing than a terrible loss and pain for our loved ones.
Death—something I refer to as a disgusting inevitability—plagues our lives, ironically, almost constantly. The closest encounters I’ve had with death (not in terms of my self, but in close friends or family members) have been fairly recent, beginning about 5 years ago when my great-grandfather died. I loved him, but he was very old and in poor health by the time I was old enough to appreciate him that I never really had the chance to grow close to him. His death was a great loss in our family, being my father’s grandfather and his father’s father, and a wonderful man to all he meet, however, it didn’t change the course of the rest of my life.
About a year later, my great-uncle Richard died, my grandmother’s brother. Being extremely close to my grandmother, losing Richard was emotional at best, though not life changing for me. He was an incredible person to be around, and it is certainly sad to think I will not be seeing him at any recent family gatherings; however, on that note, I rarely saw him very often to begin with. The times that we did spend together were precious and memorable, but his death was not a painful blow—simply due course.
In both of these situations, I consider myself blessed to have spent the time with these men that I did—just enough to enjoy them but not enough to be drastically affected by their deaths; rather, I’ve been affected by their lives.
However, this distance cannot possibly be maintained from all individuals; for, it is only part of the relationship tendencies of a human to desire closeness and intimacy. Certainly, there are a handful of people who have been so hurt by love, loss, life and death that they reject intimate relationships. However, I feel fairly certain that most of us, in general, have not been affected in this way and even if we have, still ultimately desire intimacy and connection.
That being said, when the life of a dear friend or close family member is put in jeopardy, or brought to an end, the results are much more tumultuous than that of what I described earlier. For, if someone has been a part of your daily life time after time after time—or frankly, even one time—it is only natural that you would be massively affected by their eternal absence.
Melanie’s friend is dying, which is what compelled me to write down my thoughts on the matter. I cannot pretend to even understand what this must feel like, however, I can only think of how my emotions would derail knowing that my friend—be it my very best friend or my high school acquaintance—might be ending his journey (essentially, that is. There is a positive side to all of this, knowing that an even bigger journey lies ahead…an endless journey with pure bliss and perfection) on this earth.
I remember in third grade (maybe 2nd, maybe 4th) my friend’s mother died of cancer. She had been in remission after a battle with breast cancer, and then it came back not long after in her brain and lungs. She didn’t live long. The day I found out she died, I cried for hours. The idea that this girl, my friend, was going to grow up without a mother at her side, that this mother would never see any of her 3 children graduate, marry, have children of their own…that she was gone…forever…was devastating!
In seventh grade, a sixth grader in my church youth group died of leukemia. One day she was getting remarkably better, and three days later she was gone. While I wasn’t very close with her, I distinctly remembered her smile and constant laughter. She was a light, a beautiful presence, always kind and gentle spirited, despite her immense trials. I think about her a lot, knowing that she didn’t get to live life past twelve years. That she never went on to high school, college, marriage, motherhood…but the life she lived, she lived well and happily.
And it seems to me that these people who have the chance to know they are dying understand something you and I will never understand until we’re in the situation ourselves. They recognize the value and importance of life as we know it, but also the life they are going on to live—and those we are going on to live. I envy them, in an ironic sort of way, and their opportunity to live with such genuine happiness and vitality that nothing can stop them—not even death.
While death is that disgusting inevitability that none of us want to accept or face, it can be a beautiful reminder of our precious, short time on this earth, and how important every single smile is.
So smile and attempt, in some sort of passionate way, to live like you were dying.