I recently have lost two members of my family and realized that my thoughts on death have matured into a less dramatic expression than it appeared when I was younger. As I pondered, watching their peaceful face and their fixed features, I was reminded of my own corruptible state. And suddenly, nothing really mattered.
Laying my eyes on my deceased relatives, I felt humbled and started to focus on the basics. Life is not about consuming and producing more. Life is not about showing off. Nor is it about grumbling in traffic jams, harming your neighbors, bragging about your brand new smart phone, eating junk or healthy food, worrying pointlessly or watching TV. And it is not even about achieving happiness, being remembered or being survived by relatives.
We all know that the ultimate life measuring rod determines how useful and how human we have been in the end. But as I think about it, usefulness may be a life’s purpose, linked to our humane condition not a death requirement. After all, life purpose is death and life is meaningful because we fear death.
I did not remember he looked so tanned when he was alive. It seems like all is done to erase all traces of the mortal condition. I always have this funny feeling that dead people’s chest will eventually start heaving. As if death was a joke.
When I was an 8 year old girl, my grandfather died and I could not figure out why the radio receiver was turned off, that day. I was scared when I saw him lying on the bed and somehow repelled because he was also lying in my bedroom. I supposed the music on the radio might scare his soul away, which was the reason why the receiver was shut off. In the schoolyard, a kid chuckled: “He passed away because he forgot to breathe.” If that was what death was all about, I was going to be more mindful, I thought for myself.
As a child, I was told that good people are going to heaven. So death was just a passage and life carried on in another shape. I remember I was comfortable with the idea but could not help agonizing over my pre-existent status.
We want control over every area of our life. Even on our own end. Which is basically the reason why we are never ready. I assume that when the moment hits, I will be. Well, there is nothing else I can do but be ready and let go. After all, I have traveled through eternity before. As Woody Allen’s quote goes “Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end.”