The two past consecutive weekends, I had to travel down to my village for the funerals of two of my very dear cousins.
This experience had a profound impact on me and brought me down to earth, literally, as I further realized the futility of this life. It was a wakeup call and a reminder about what mattered most as we go through this journey called life. I have come to appreciate these long road trips to funerals as they allow me a time for deep meditation and assessment of my life and help me to think more about this inevitable end which we all must face some day.
I think about the life of the people we just lost. The huge impact they made that endeared them to us and motivated us to make this long trip to pay our last respect. I looked at the hundreds of people from all walks of life that had also made time to embark on the long tedious journey to pay their last respects. I listened to the beautiful tributes made by friends, colleagues and family about how much the deceased had impacted their lives. We wept; we forgot why we were there momentarily and cracked jokes; we remembered and we wept again until the caskets were lowered and we heard the sounds of earth hitting the casket as the grave was covered. Then we felt some peace as we knew the final chapter of their lives was closed. The only thing that lives on, is the legacy they left behind: the impact they made on us and others while alive. The fond memories of the experiences we shared with them. It is Ernest Hemingway that said, “Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
You know, death is one subject that very few feel comfortable to talk about. Most people shy away from this subject and hurriedly go through it when they have to yet it’s one of the few things in this world that is most definitely certain. No one is going to escape it which is why I describe is as the Absolute Certainty. So if death is so certain, we must ask ourselves, when we die, what sort of tributes will be given at our funeral? How many people will be willing to make sacrifices and inconvenience themselves to be at our burial? Why do we live with so much hatred and selfishness, hoarding so much wealth without helping others? How can we stand so much injustice without standing up to do something about it? Why do we treat our fellow man with so much contempt? Why do we keep putting off till tomorrow what we should do today: that class; that visit to a close relative or loved one we haven’t heard from in a long while; that phone call; that dream; that confession; that treat or promise for our children. Why do we refuse to give up that habit that has made us less what God made us to be? Why do we live as if we are never going to die?? Why?
As I reflected on all who have left this world, I realize that those who are still remembered are those who truly lived because of the impact they made on others while they were alive; Those who were deliberate about doing what was right regardless of the pain or pleasure they got out of it. As for me, I have decided to hold on to the words of R.A. Salvatore from The Halfling’s Gem which said “I have come to know that death is an important thing to keep in mind — not to complain or to make melancholy, but simply because only with the honest knowledge that one day I will die can I ever truly begin to live.”