Death pokes a lot of holes in us.
Making us feel in places we didn’t know existed.
But one nagging feeling never goes away. Death makes us want to hold on longer. Emotions. Thoughts. Memories. Pictures. Anything to hold on to when loved ones go away. Enhanced versions. Blurry versions. Better versions. Anything to wipe away the tears. The good ricochets with a fiery vengeance. Hammering into our heads, telling us how perfect the people who left us were. We replay their deaths in our heads like the ticking of a clock. Over and over until the colored hue of their memory is replaced by a black and white hazy picture. But the wonder and mystery of death remains. Sinking into our minds like quicksand.
We are overcome by feelings of raw surrender and troubling awe at those who pass and those who remain . People who die become glass encased specimens in a museum. Every mundane detail about the dead becomes extraordinary.
What they ate? “Oh he loved chowmein. It was the last thing he ate.”
What they wore? “Half of her wardrobe was black. I couldn’t get her to wear any other color.”
The last thing he said? “I will be back soon from work and we’ll talk. All right sweetie?”
What they didn’t say. “She was never much of a talker. Her silence was my biggest comfort. Where will I find my comfort now?”
What was their hobby? “He loved fixing things. From a leaky tap to a leaky tear duct, he could fix anything.”
The mole behind her neck. That skewed smile. The way he cracked his knuckles when he was nervous. How skin between her eyebrows twisted like a snake every time she scowled. That lone curl resting behind her ear. Warm hands. Cold toes. Every nuance of their existence suddenly begins to matter more than it ever did before.
We know the real deal. Nothing’s new. Death always beats life to the finish. Whether in its significance or its finality. From renowned people who died natural deaths to normal people who died shocking ones. Death is always the dominant twin. Dragging life by the ears. Peeling away layer by layer.
But the question remains. Why does everything become more important when death is involved? We ignore so much when a person is alive. We forget the good and highlight the bad. We take relationships for granted. We shun them. We forget them. By the time we give them their due credit, the expiry date is already flickering like a neon sign. Sticking its tongue out. Mocking us for being too late. A complete overhaul of perspective takes over.
Death is the most important event of our lives. Whether we like it or not. It marks the end of the line and the beginning of an immortal journey. The last known chapter.
Maybe that’s why the dead shine like clusters of stars. Flames that never die. Light that cannot be overshadowed with hate, or malice, or contempt. Maybe it’s our way of paying homage to the people we once knew – Of apologizing and making up for all the times we hurt them – Of justifying the end.
Maybe it’s the least we can do.
Remember them. Always. Every day.
Really enjoyed this!! Wonderful words, and so very true. I think we have more of a thing the older we get, and become ever more aware of our mortality. There was an elderly customer in the very first hair salon that I worked, whose souk topic of conversation each weekly visit was to give a round up of all the deaths that had occurred in the preceding seven days! As a sixteen year old, it seemed bizarre! Now I am somewhat more understanding!
That lady must have spooked you out back then! I can almost imagine.
Death is inevitable, so we fight it any way we can. I don’t idolise my dead, they are still human, still flawed, and it is important for me to remember that, to not make them something they weren’t before death. I don’t agree that death is the most important event in my life, rather the birth of my children was. Death IS the inevitable event in my life, and the closer I come to that point every day, the more it rises on my horizon, the more notice I take of it, and try to find ways to accept it as the finale to my existence on earth.
Nicely written post.
Some wise thoughts here. Thanks for sharing Claudette:)
Ah, I recently wrote a piece in death too, which I was thinking to post! I like how you compare death to something that ” marks the end of the line. It marks the beginning of an immortal journey. Maybe that’s why the dead shine like clusters of North stars. Flames that never die.”
Death has to be the single most fascinating thing to man, for both death and life go hand in hand. I find myself, the deeper I get into my medical studies, more enraptured by the topic. While our job is to fight it, we both fear and awe it. Though to some it is a thing of fairytales until they have to face it, it is ultimately inevitable.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes:
“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can.”
Lovely write up. 🙂
I decided that I would celebrate people while they and I are still alive. I express gratitude & appreciation a lot. I wrote a post- before I die- in it I say, “Before I die, I want to let the people I love know that I love them. I do not want them to waste even a day questioning my love.”
It is understanding the brevity of life, perhaps that thing for death, that has changed my attitude so.
Nice write-up Nida!
‘it is understanding the brevity of life…. that has changed by attitude so.’ Well said. This reminder needs to continue hammering into our minds so we don’t stop celebrating people while they are still alive. Thankyou for your precious feedback:)
Very nice post Nida. Very true and emotional.
Thank you dear
You have the courage to say it as you see it. Wish more of us could do that. Death is the ultimate reality, the final truth and although the hypocrisy around the living is sickening, one yearns to be remembered as the “enhanced version”. In life, we our judged by the value we have; our materialistic value. Period. You lose your relevance you become a nobody, a good for nothing parasite; but but but this realisation dawns in good time. And that is when death becomes something to look forward to; and as a beautiful inevitability.