Death. Sucks.

September 20, 2008
By Corinne Herman SILVER, Camarillo, California
Corinne Herman SILVER, Camarillo, California
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Everyone always says that we have to remember to seize the day, to never leave someone with a negative note, to make a difference because you never know you never know. But who does? No one simply wakes up planning to enrich the lives of everyone they see that day, no one gives up a fight when they're in the right just because they want to end every conversation on a positive note, because the world could end today.
And yet we still say it. Be good to thy neighbor. Take life day by day. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Live with no regrets. And inside, these words are hollow. We truly believe that we understand, that we should know because we've all felt that fuzzy feeling inside when we are kind to those we love and maybe even to those who we don't love all so much. But kindness is not the word we're looking for, not the thing we're feeling around in the dark for.
It is ironically tragic that in truth, we only really understand the meaning of these phrases when the world ends for someone else. And not a lengthy disease or an expected death, because although these hurt us, we still have time to pay our respects, to love and to end on a positive note because we know, we're ready. No, I mean those deaths that leap up on us. And mother in a car crash, a friend's suicide, an uncle with a stroke. Those deaths that leave us in a half-breath, that make us want to vomit and laugh at the same time because it can't be true, can it. Those losses in which we have no time to "have no regrets," to "end on a positive note."
Because it is then that we feel the bone crushing pain of guilt, of not telling mom I love you one more time, of not sending that thank you note for the gift our uncle got us for our last birthday, for not assuring our friend that she was beautiful, wonderful. We feel the pain of loss a thousand times over, because we could not act out those words we spoke, those words we gave to others but didn't take ourselves. It is then that we understand, because we could have listened, could have changed that life a little more before it left. We could have given more, loved more.
And then we truly know what those words mean. We can use them and understand what advice we are giving. We can speak with words not hollow and shriveled but thick and dripping with truth and knowledge. As the Buddhists teach, suffering is the best way to learn life's lessons. So though it is sad, though it rips us apart to think of the deceased and all the things we could have done, it teaches us for the losses that lay ahead. Gives us a template with which to create the artwork of all our future interactions, our future words, our future actions. So through this we can change and love and make sure that truly, if we lost someone tomorrow, we would feel slightly more consoled than we did with our last loss. And who knows? Maybe some day we'll find that we really have no regrets, that we really have loved our neighbor. That we truly have become the master of our words.
Death still sucks pretty bad, though.

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