Friday, December 7, 2012

"Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life."

Death has been called the "great equalizer." I know this is true, from an ashes-to-ashes point of view. We are all born and we all die, regardless of the impact we have, or do not have, during our time on this Earth. It's a curtain call for the wealthiest and poor alike, the most erudite and the most ignorant, the most benevolent and the most sinister. In dying, even the most insignificant person can be made to sound grand and the most grand person made to sound unimportant. Indeed, the great equalizer, is a very apt description of death.

As a member of very large, Polish Catholic family, I've been to a fair share of funerals. The earliest of which I don't remember, and even those I remember having attended, I wasn't particularly knowledgable of the person being mourned. In fact, I'd say my Grandmother passing in the summer of '96 was the first time in which a person's passing was felt so intensely, the first in which I remember having shed significant tears.

Around the same time of my Grandmother's passing, I experienced losing a person of my own generation, my own age. Jared Alger, a young guy I was aware of from band at Parkside Junior High School, made a few poor choices that resulted in his entering the great beyond via an auto accident. The impact of his passing shook up the school, as far as my class was concerned. The impact on me was less one of true loss, rather one of "someone my age I know died! Holy shit!" Not to suggest his passing wasn't met with sadness, but we weren't close at all. I thought him a good guy; was aware that many others were fond of him. Yet, the overriding impact was shock to see someone of a similar age die.

More than a decade later, I suffered the loss of someone much closer. My token lesbian friend, Tara Kate, left this world less than two weeks after she had been released from military service. Having moved in with me, I was the one who discovered the empty shell that housed her wonderful soul, and who - sadly - has that visual forever burned into my memory. Not just a great friend, Tara Kate was a soul who dispensed happiness like it was candy on Halloween. Yes, I lost a great friend, but the world lost a person epitomizing love.

Several years ago, I lost my Uncle John. Better said, my cousins, Nikki and Steve, lost their father; my Aunt Linda lost her husband. Any melancholy felt by me pales to what they must have felt. I say this with confidence, because during his funeral, I was overwhelmed with love for my own father, which they must have been. I could only think of how acutely I didn't ever want to lose my father, of how I never want to see either parent alone. This translates to the profound empathy I have for their loss of my Uncle John.

Today, the 7th of December, marks the funeral of André Breeding, a former classmate of mine. I didn't attend his funeral, rationalizing that we weren't especially close friends. André was someone whom I held in high regard. When his name were to come up in conversation, my thoughts to surface were "what a good dude" and "I wonder what homeboy is up to these days?" Never, as far as I can recall, did I think poorly of André, nor could I ever see him as undeserving of a good life, which was taken from him unfairly.

No scripture will I share. No talk of Heaven or the afterlife. My beliefs in such are strong, but, right now, unneeded. All we have left are memories of those who have gone before us. We will see them again, of that I am sure, but we're faced with the waiting period; the moving on and living. Their memories live on with us, and I hope we do them, and their memories, proud.

Yes, André, I write this with you in my heart. Not just you, but the people to whom I've referred as well. I suppose, the love I have in my heart is also for everyone, living and dead. Again, to André, this is really directed at you when I say that you must have lived well enough to leave behind so many positive thoughts and memories. God Bless and Namaste...

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