When Death Knocks Closer To Home
We are all familiar with death…we know what death means…and yet, we look at it as something that does not belong in this realm – foreign, therefore should be treated at arm’s length. When we hear of stories about this kind of loss from our friends, we are always quick to offer words of consolation to them. They are in heaven…free of pain and suffering…there is no reason for the grief. Perhaps that is true…I do believe that it is true. Nevertheless, when death comes knocking a bit closer to home, we still find that we are not ready to deal with the loss. We cannot meet it with grace or glee.
My aunt just passed away…complication from diabetes. She had been in and out of the hospital for quite a long time so, let us say, it was an eventuality that anyone should have seen coming. Yet, the day she finally went away, I felt sadness in losing her just the same. I have no regret nor misgiving. After all, I treated her well like a mom…I tried to be there in a way I know best and I can do best. Still, I felt sad that I sought quiet and solitude for a short while…just to console the sorrow in my heart.
Death takes something from us that we can not gain back, no matter how we cry our eyeballs out. What makes it difficult, I think, is the fact that we cannot get away from memories playing in our head. What those people have done for us…the love and care we received from them…the moments we shared with them. Back then, those things seem trivial and ordinary – nothing but the usual outcome of living and interacting with people in our lives. However, once gone, without any chance of return, those little, mundane things suddenly matter…abruptly occupy space in our soul.
She was fond of me…proud even, with what insignificant life I made. She was always there to back me up when people talk behind my back or in my presence. She understood me a lot and accepted me as I am. She was quite that kind of aunt – although she was not a blood aunt because she was my paternal uncle’s wife. Despite that, she treated me and my siblings and several of my cousins like her very own.
My uncle, like many in his family, is a very conservative man…in short, strict. He is my dad’s youngest sibling but many of us looked up to him more like an older brother than an uncle. My cousins, siblings and I are mighty afraid of him because he would discipline us a bit harsher than our real fathers. Woe if you ever get caught cutting classes or talking with guys!
His wife, my aunt who passed away, was the balancing act. She would happily distract her husband to let us steal beer from their grocery store (heck, do not raise your brow, you were once a kid too). She would allow us to order cocktail drinks when we eat out which, all the while, my uncle thought were nothing but fancy juices. She would be excited like a teenage girl when we talk of lovelife or guys. And the best thing of all, she would always keep us happy and gay by ensuring that our tummies are full. She could cook quite well…way better than our moms. As I grow older and more independent, she had been there both during good and bad times.
Whenever I visit my folks, I always make sure I find time to pay her a visit as well because she would feel bad if I was in town and did not show up. I talked to her many things which I normally do not discuss with my own mother…shenanigans or otherwise.
Too many memories to tell…too many to remember. It is no surprise then that she left a hole in our hearts when she finally died.
On the night before she passed away, I prayed to God for relief so that she could go home and out of the hospital. I do not know if that Great Being misunderstood what I was asking because, instead, she died the next day. Still, I cannot find it in me to blame God or to bear hard feelings. Maybe it was for the best. She already suffered a lot after all.
I only wish that she is with the Divine… enveloped within that radiant love-bliss of the eternal…I wish she is “home”…finally.
When I saw her corpse, it was like looking at a stranger. To me, it was just a shell there inside the coffin…devoid of the love and warmth that I identify with her. I can no longer connect with her lifeless vessel and letting go of that body was a lot easier. Still, there was one brief moment I was not able to take hold of my emotion…maybe it was the music playing, maybe it was the silent crying of others, maybe a glimpse of some memory in my mind that drove my tears to fall. Except that the whispering and chattering of some people (wondering whose relatives we are) beside me jolted me back to reality that I was in public. Why cannot people be at least sensitive for few minutes and remain silent as respect to grieving hearts? No one would want attention at times like that. Peace and quiet would have been perfect gift.
Yet, it is difficult to make them understand I guess…for until it happens to you, death is just an alien thing.