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.