‘ This is for my people who just lost somebody; your best friend, your baby, your man, or your lady.. mothers, daddies, sisters, friends and brothers, this is for my people who just lost their grandmothers. We will never say bye.’ – Bye bye Mariah Carey
When I was younger I always used to wonder who in my family would be the first to go. I was (and maybe still am) interested in my own position in that line. Unfortunately the list has begun to reveal itself..
This train of thought used to make me fear death completely, ‘how is it possible to just stop breathing ?’ ‘Is it painful?’ ‘Which is better; death in your sleep or being shot?’ Truth is these are just mundane questions whose answers we will never really know; one can only imagine , never actually coming to a solid answer. Why? Because we have to experience it.
I have a theory,
‘ A person in their final days knows it; they just can’t tell anyone about it for the fact that its personal. In any case, no one will believe you or they’ll quickly dismiss you as you talk to them, perhaps calling it ‘bad/dark thoughts.’
Now I’m sure you’re wondering how/ why/ when I came up with this. Well, simply from observation as well as hearing as people recount the last moments they shared with the deceased. There’s that line that is so commonly said ‘ Its like they knew they were going‘. The most intimate time I heard that line being used was after the death of my Late Aunt Ciru, and looking back at her final months and days, it was as if she knew…
Only problem is, being human, we never want to think about it [death], so we can only wait for it to show up at our doorsteps, something I must admit is quite the bad habit.
‘Why do you live like tomorrow is promised?’
How easy is it for us to say things like ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ or ‘Can we meet next week instead?’ To be fair, I agree on the unpredictability of this life we are living. There are times when circumstances just do not allow us to do all we want/ set our minds to do in a given day. It may be stress levels/ unfavourable weather/ work overload, you name it.
However, if you really reflect on it, there’s been times you just rescheduled or procrastinated because you assumed ‘tomorrow‘ is another day that will be granted to you. If you’re reading this, obviously your assumption came to pass, but that luck can’t last forever.
With death, more often than not, comes the feeling of regret. This emotion always reveals itself in subtle and not so subtle forms after the demise of someone. We always hear it, we always express it in our words…
‘We were supposed to..but I put it off’
‘I actually wanted to come see him/her last week..but’
‘I wish our last conversation wasn’t a fight…’
‘I wish I knew they were suffering/ I wish I did something..’
I have personally been a victim of this myself. Exactly one year and a week ago, my grandfather passed away…. unexpectedly. Just a week prior, mum had told me to call him and let him know that I was home. I instead suggested we go see him over the weekend when he was free (mainly because I’m very uncomfortable with phone calls, something I’ve really been struggling to change since). As you may already have figured it out, I did not get to see him because he proceeded to fall seriously ill a day or two later; and unfortunately he did not want us to see him in that state. I should have gone though, I should have forced issues, I shouldn’t have entertained guests in the house while he was dying in a hospital bed… (R.E.G.R.E.T). He died, and it took me months to be at peace with it and forgive myself for putting unimportant things before the ones that matter most to me.
There’s honestly nothing as bad, as looking down at the coffin of someone you love and get overwhelmed with sadness. True, death is a sad occurrence in the fact that we lose someone we love, but it really should be about celebrating the fact that they lived and we got to be a part of their life. So tell me, why did I, why do we, feel regret when it happens?
‘We need to live our lives as if we were to die tomorrow.’ – Mahatma Gandhi
Death or even the thought of it, changes us; directly or indirectly and whether we like it or not.
I don’t know if you’ve read stories of patient’s who are given a few months/years to live and how they sometimes manage to accomplish a lot before their time comes. I always find such interesting. I mean, imagine ticking many things off your bucket list in a limited time.. the mere thought of going without having done much appears to be the force that pushes us to go the extra mile.
Maybe living with the thought that the next 24 hours may be our last is a habit we need to learn to practice. ‘If these were my last 24 hours, how would I want to spend them?’
How do you want to be remembered? and what do you want to be remembered for? Some of us will be great; known across all continents of the world, make millions. Some of us will be unknown; surviving, making money but choosing to remain unknown. Whatever our path, the destination is the same; 6 feet in. So what really matters is what you leave behind, how do you want to be remembered?
Truth is, you’ll mainly be remembered for the number of people whose lives you touched and somehow changed.
I’ll end with lyrics from a song I heard once, a while back that really are the reason I chose to write on this topic (I’ve never found the song unfortunately)
” I heard you die twice, Once when they lower you into your grave. The second when they stop saying your name.”