And another one is dead. Such is life. We come and we go.
Perhaps the only thing that shocks us the most is when one goes unexpectedly. Otherwise, death is as natural as birth.
I was in my college years when my grandmother died. I shed tears; in my own way, I felt close to her. My parents would tell me years before that when my mother was in school working, my grandmother would breastfeed me. In the absence of my mother, she nursed me. I don’t wonder why I felt close to her. And she sent me to college, too. When she went, I felt I failed to thank her enough to make her feel that I am grateful. But she went, and my tears would let her know that I was grateful.
Years before that, her mother, my late great grandmother died in her sleep–I was beside her when she went. I was in the elementary grades. Her passing away did not affect me as much as when her daughter went. Perhaps, my awareness was not ripe, because despite having taken care of her in my own little way–preparing her meal of porridge especially in the evenings–I was not much affected.
And then my father-in-law went. I remember I would engage him in what I thought was intelligent conversation. He was a mathematics teacher. He was very articulate–in English and Chinese. When he died, that was the time I thought of my own mortality. And I thought to myself, we’re changing guards already. More and more people close to us are going. And I will go to, that’s for sure.
And then my own father got sick. My mother fainted in the hospital lobby, after receiving the doctor’s findings–colon cancer. My awareness this time has ripened some more. This is changing guards again, if and when he goes. But he has not. He is still with us. But he will go, that’s for sure. But while he is here, I would rather think about bringing him walnuts when I visit him in the province, or give him a call when I just want to say hello or listen to his jokes.
And then an editor-friend dies, unexpectedly. And an acquaintance dies, unexpectedly. The closer they got, the calmer I get. I would attribute this calmness to my awareness–changing of the guards is inevitable. The cycle of life must go on.
Death is just a passing on. As birth is a starting on.