I’ve had two people die in my office within the past two months, both suddenly. Looking back now, I had seen Jane*, as was the norm, that Friday, making her usual cup of what I never paid much attention to. That was the last time I saw her alive.
Sally* worked at another branch office, so I had not seen her in a while, but I remembered telling her once that her heels were too high, and that she needed to be careful when walking on the newly installed tiles. She was killed by a car while crossing the Priority Bus Route (PBR), on her way to school.
Not two, full months had passed – and here we were again with Sally’s passing.
I wondered, what was I supposed to do now? Did I simply close the message, and go on to the other one that reminded me that Tony’s email wasn’t working, or that I needed to pick up the pace on that outstanding project? I sat there in stunned silence and wondered, am I ready to die?
Having lost my father at 11, I’m always struck by the maddening tragedy of death. I can’t sit through any movie where someone dies with bawling my eyes out. That’s unless I’m in the company of friends, where only silent whimpering is acceptable.
Having lost my father at 11, I’m always struck by the maddening tragedy of death.
When we are young, we do not worry too much about death. We believe we still have time. Or maybe if we believe in reincarnation we’re okay, because aye…we’ll be back. But even with each religion giving us reasons why we should fear or not fear dying, I believe to some extent, we all hold some apprehension. Leaving this existence seems unnatural in some way, and whether, like me, we find it a challenge to fully accept this God-given fact, we all have to go one day.
I remember when my father was ill; he asked my mom to let him ‘arrange things’. She would have none of it. There was no way she was going to sit with him, and discuss his death, for simply, he was not going to die. He called my brother and me, and spoke to us instead. Yet running around in my yard for however long after, I wasn’t nearly prepared for the news that my father had passed.
For those of us who have lost a loved one, the space left is never filled. We harbour the silent hope that one day we will meet again, whether in Paradise, Heaven or Hell, Moksha or Samsara, Nirvana or The Bardo. We all silently hope that death is simply not the end.
I often wonder if the people who find out that they are suffering from some sort of terminal disease are in a better place than those who simply get hit by a bus.
If we are honest, we will agree that too many times we live lives filled with resentment and drama. There are too many people whom we can’t stand, too many things that we want to do, but don’t. Too many things that we want to say we’re sorry for, but never do. We live each day as though we have time. Time to fix things. Time to do it over.
I’m sure that as my coworker rode that bus to school, she never imagined that she would not be returning home. Was she angry? Did she decide that morning that she wasn’t going to smile at the person she sat next to? Did she argue with a boyfriend, and felt too pissed off to apologize, leaving it for later? Or was someone angry with her, and didn’t feel it necessary to make peace, hoping for a next time? No one knows, but it’s too late for that now.
How are you living today? Are you striving to live your best life? Are you really pursuing the things that bring you joy? Or are you holding on to petty hurts that pull at your sprit, and prevent you from walking in real peace. Are you really living the life you want to live today? Because what we know for very sure is, tomorrow is not promised.
Once, when a friend of mine was feeling a bit down, he said: “I’ve imagined being asked, ‘What you are doing?’ And my answer would be, “Same as you, waiting to die”. That was too morbid, he finally acknowledged. Life is made up of moments and to a great extent we do have control over how we spend them. So although the reality is that we are all waiting to die, let’s try this response instead. Lift your chin up smile and say “Living my life to the fullest. What about you?”
*Names have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.
Image via hdrenesys.deviantart.com