“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world, remains and is immortal.” -Albert Pike
The other night I sat with a friend of mine who recently lost his wife to SUDE (Sudden, Unexpected Death from Epilepsy). We cried and talked for hours about nothing but the tragedy of it all. And I decided, I’m exactly the kind of person you want to have around when you’re mourning because I will listen to and internalize your pain and devastation as if it is my own. Needless to say, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. We sat there and watched videos of her, looked through pictures, listened to songs that were special to them both. He told me stories of their life together and explained what her last few days in the hospital were like. Sarah, his wife, was an amazing person. She was active in the community, always doing things to help others. And she was young–29. They wanted to buy a house, have babies and grow old together. And that’s exactly what they would have done had Sarah survived her last epileptic seizure and god willing. They were absolutely, 100% committed to being together. Forever. And they were perfect for eachother, crazy about eachother. So to see someone go through that sort of loss is just… fucked up. There’s really no other way to put it. I tried. And that’s the best I came up with. It’s fucked up to lose someone you love that much so suddenly and so early. They were married four short years. And now my friend has the rest of his life to live with the fact that the love of his life has vanished into thin air. Poof. Gone. Just like that.
It’s amazing how fast it all begins and just how quickly it can end. On the one hand, I’m ridden with sorrow for my friend. On the other, I envy what he had with his wife of four years that I have yet to find and perhaps never will. After spending an evening with someone lamenting the love and eternal bond between he and his wife (“As long as we both shall live” he repeated), it’s hard to imagine being loved that much by someone, feeling that connected to another human being. And I hate feeling jealous of someone going through this. Because I certainly don’t envy what he’s going through now. We see cherished others as extensions of ourselves. So to feel them slip away is to feel a part of ourselves is missing. It is a simple inevitability and yet it is one we are rarely ever content with.
Loss. So far, the Universe has proved that there could not be life without it. No joy without sorrow. No pleasure without pain. No love without hate. Yet it’s one of the hardest realities to deal with. It’s certainly the hardest reality I’ve ever had to deal with. When it comes to loss you really have to push it out of your mind, pretend it doesn’t exist in order to simply get through your day. But one must be careful of the danger in not allowing themselves to grieve properly. It’s easy to lose touch with the world around us and become disenchanted by the love and beauty we’ve been blessed with. It’s easy to push love away when we’re convinced of nothing but the idea that we’ve been wronged.
But to see the other side of things, to be on the other side, to witness the beginning transform into an end, an end into a beginning, is to hold the key to all our grief. It’s just hard connecting those dots at times. It’s easier to blame our unhappiness on whatever loss we’ve endured in our lives. And it’s almost natural to want the people closest to us to suffer the pain we feel from that loss. If we’re not happy, why should they be? When an ultimate source of love is taken away, it becomes more difficult to love others the way we might have otherwise been so inclined.
What inquiring minds such as mine want to know is, Where does everything go? When someone suddenly stops loving the one person they promised to love forever, where does that love go? When someone leaves this world, when they die, where do they go? What do they cross over and what are they suddenly on the other side of? I realize religion has tried for centuries to explain this great mystery with stories and anecdotes, gods and demons. And while one is just as probable as another I suppose, I still can’t help but wonder… Is there like a cosmic lost and found where we go to check in once we’re dead? Are we more than our bodies? I think science has proved this is so. Are we more than our minds? Is it possible to continue to experience life beyond death? And if so, what new meaning does life suddenly hold for us? Is it truly possible to be cosmically tied to another human being? Just what the fuck is going on is basically what I want desperately to know.
But since I can’t ever know as long as I’m alive, I suppose I must put my quandaries to rest by putting my faith in the only thing that’s given me a reason to live: Love. I don’t know what’s happening out there in the Universe, why I’m here or how I got here. I don’t know where I’ll go when I die (if anywhere) but I do know that while I’m here I’d be wise to make the best of things.
At Sarah’s celebration where more than a hundred people gathered to share in the recognition of the life and love she brought to the world, the walls were lined with photos of Sarah and things to remember her by. And it made me wonder, Is this what our lives boil down to? A narrative of pictures, a collection of things left for others to stifle through and fill in the blanks? We all have a choice with regards to the way we are remembered. Sarah will be remembered as being a remarkable person. How will I be remembered? How many people will be there when I’m gone? It’s a morbid thought, I realize, but one I’m sure we’ve all considered.
At the moment, I’m struggling with the loss of someone very special to me and my kids. Someone who took his love away, then refused to say goodbye. And it hurts. Because I miss my friend. And my kids do, too. He was my best friend, my number one fan. And I don’t know what to do with that empty space. I try to fill it with all I can to distract myself from the fact that he’s no longer here. But it’s like trying to nourish my body with empty calories which never quite satisfy. I know that this is all for the best. I believe this was likely our fate all along. But somehow that doesn’t make it any easier. Because I love him all the same. Even if he doesn’t share the same feelings or even think about me. Sometimes I feel like we get caught up in the pain of loss that we forget about the love that made all of that pain possible. Perhaps because it’s just easier that way.
We draw so many unnecessary lines. This as yours, that as mine; this as love, that as hate. When really, if you stare long enough at any line, it becomes a little fuzzy. What’s right and what’s wrong are not always so obvious. Where I end and you begin is less distant than you might think. What separates the living from the dead is just one quick pulse away. We are all a part of this world and we are all just doing our best with what we’ve been given while we’re still here.
Life is short. LOVE while there’s still time, before life channels itself into the great Unknown where all is eventually lost, perhaps never to be found again. Maybe love is the only thing we can take with us when we go. I sure hope so.
(I realize many of my readers subscribe to a belief in an afterlife, whether that be a Heaven ruled by God and a Hell governed by Satan or what. So I do hope you don’t interpret my blog as a critique of your personal beliefs, though I don’t give credence to them myself. Faith is a virtue. And as long as it gets you through and it’s not hurting anyone, believe whatever the hell you want! I just ask you grant me the same respect.)