I am awake at an unreasonable hour due to a rare bad dream. The dream was unrealistic and something out of an exorcist episode; however, when I woke up, my first thought was towards a video that was forwarded to me. The video captured the death of some people in a car who were trapped in rushing flood waters. It was not the most appropriate video to forward and I deleted the message. I hate feeling like a spectator to such things.
The video resurfaced some death and dying issues I have been occasionally dealing with particularly after the sudden death of my young niece. Like most people, I am not unfamiliar with death and funerals but her passing was more bothersome due to her age and how sudden the body can go into distress without much forewarning. I thought I had made peace with the fear and accepted the inevitable of death but apparently not so well.
If you are a Christian, then you are familiar with the Bible’s occasional and scant details about life after death. For the faithful people, they go to heaven where everything is rosy and the bad people get something else. As she laid lifeless, my thoughts were not about heaven or hell. The thing I remembered about the body of my niece was how empty she looked. There was no life and her body was just a stuffed shell. It is almost like a beautiful house that is vacant- it is no longer a home but a structure. I could not connect the person to the body. In my denomination, we interpret the Bible’s comparison of death to a person sleeping but the spirit is no longer there, the person is unaware of the happenings in the world and the spirit is at rest until the official judgment and resurrection day as talked about in Revelations.
The fear of death is prevalent in some cultures while in others, it is seen as a journey to embrace. I have to embrace some kind of positive belief about the afterlife in order to be at full peace with death. For someone with Christian beliefs, that positive belief is in God. With the one year anniversary of her death about a month away and the terminal illness of my mother, the subject of death is very prominent and so is the subject of faith. I am not implying that I will be one of those who makes it through the Pearly Gates because my many sins are always before me. However, so is the ability to pray and I use it frequently. This is God’s show and I am just the player. Whatever the final judgment for my life, I cannot go through life with a fear of what is on the other side. It can become overwhelming particularly knowing that life is a gift that can be taken away at a moment. Plus, it is disturbing my sleep.
When someone is dying, he typically enjoys or cherishes the moments he has left. For those of us who do not have specific timelines, we freak and stress at the slightest things. I am very guilty. It has become standard practice that we cherish something more when we know we will lose it. I have never been afraid of living and I know that I have to restart my life and death reconciliation. It is not an easy process being comfortable with the unknown, trusting the words of an age-old manuscript and having no eyewitness who can come back and give full details about life on the other side. It is just something I need to do by trusting in God. Everyone needs to have faith in something and God is my choice.
A quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi “Live as if you know you were to die tomorrow; Learn as if you were to live forever”