Mid-week Observations: Near Death

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I recently heard from my father about a death of someone close to him. I did not know this man well, but I knew him in passing. He was in poor health and there were a lot of complications; we knew that he was going to die at some point, though it was still a shock when it happened.
This death made me very emotional - not because I knew the man well, but just because I knew him. I started thinking about the reality of death, the fact that we don't know when it comes, but it will come. I have always thought that I will not be scared of my own death, and I ascribe to that, but the death of others is different.
I believe that on the first day I heard the news, I described it like this: the saddening thing about death is that we no longer get to cross paths with that person again.
This is perhaps a simple cognitive piece. You can understand this intellectually without much effort. But the emotional impact is much less straightforward. In my heart, I cannot reconcile the passing of any person I know.
Their bodies do not vanish, this we know. They are put into the ground or they are burnt into ash, but they do not physically leave. Instead it is the mindset that they are unable to rise from that place and come back. They are stagnant, while we move.
So this brings me back to my earliest musing on death. I feel the loss of this man, even if I do not know this man so well as my father or his family. Because I can no longer experience the awkward moments of saying "hello" to this man, I can no longer spend time with my father and him at the movies, I can no longer wave goodbye after dropping him off at his home.
And that means that someday I will not be able to do any of those things with people that are close to me. I will not be able to cross paths in any capacity with those people again.
Being near death is much scarier than being dead.

Read some more lessons I've learned in this life.