My brother's longtime friend passed away early this morning. He had lung cancer. When my brother told me that his friend was in hospice, I insisted that he visit his friend as much as possible because his time was running out. Jeff lived across the small drive from our apartment when we were living in the projects a long time ago. I have memories of his family and mostly of Jeff and my brother.
They spent lots of time together. Jeff was a very tall but kind and gentle soul. When my brother decided to get married on Halloween, Jeff came as Frankenstein's monster to the reception. This made me laugh. He married and then had children, both are blessings.
I am going to be 53 in a couple of weeks. At this point in my life, more and more friends and family members will be passing away. This causes me to think more often about death. We really have no idea about the next life, if there is one. Death is something that everyone experiences only once, at least that we know of. We are given promises of heaven if we are good and hell if we are bad, according to the Bible. But no one ever comes back to say what really happens. If you believe in psychics, then lots of people speak to us from the other side. However, not everyone holds this belief. We all hope for something better than what we have lived, I know that I do.
Is the essence of all that we are lost in the grave? The headstone lists our name, date of birth, and our date of death. There was a life lived in between those two dates. Sometimes, I feel guilty when researching my family history. I get excited when I find an obituary, forgetting about the man or woman to whom those dates pertained. I don't do this knowingly, but subconsciously. As I gather facts, I often wonder what that person was like. What did they look like? What were their interests? Were they good or bad? The personal things that are not written about a life within an obituary. Often, our lives are summed up in a paragraph or less.
Not long ago, one of my memoir classmates read a poem written by his wife. The poem spoke of a man's life. Over the years he had accumulated a lot of "things", but in the end all of his "stuff" fit into a garbage bag. I cried as he read the poem. We cannot take our things with us to the nursing home, much less the grave. And yet, we try.
It is not the "stuff" that I worry so much about, but me. I know this sounds selfish. But will I be remembered? I, too, was here. Have I made my mark on this world? There are no children calling me Mommy, nor a husband whispering sweet words of love in my ear. Will my life/existence vanish like the morning mist? To be honest, it will piss me off if this life is all there is.
Our lives don't really belong to us, just like our things. In a moments notice, we are no longer here, but there, wherever that may be. All I really want is to be remembered. Is that too much to ask?