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“I have often wondered why people fear me so.” He spoke softly breaking the silence. “We rejoice the beginning of ones lives with celebration, yet on the same hand mourn there passing, and by doing so we lose sight of all of their accomplishments. If a person has lived his life honestly, successfully or even completely, should not the correct response to his death be a smile? Why do people find the need to focus on the negative aspect of death? Death is an unavoidable aspect of life, and no matter how much you wish, it will never go away. Do we ponder why the sun will rise every morning? The answer to this is no because you have accepted it as a necessary reality of life. I say treat death in the same manner, do not pay it any heed and focus on the living of life not the dying.”
I admitted to myself that his words did have a ring of truth to them. I was now forced to consider what it was about death that I feared so. I responded with “It is not the aspect of dying that we morn but rather that of a loss. We do not cry over the memories we have with the deceased but rather those that we cannot have with them. We can no longer enjoy the comfort of their presence, spend time with them, laugh with them, or cry with them. They are gone, and by their passing, we are forced to remember who and what we are. No matter how many advances we make in life we cannot avoid the fact that we are mortals. Just as we were brought into this world we must one day leave it too. We cannot overlook the negative aspect of death for it is a constant reminder of our own mortality.
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“ Your loss you say.” His words hung for what seemed an eternity but were merely a moment. “This is the last thing I had ever expected you to say. Where was your sense of loss when you refused to speak to your father for seven years? Even after you learned of his failing health you continued your actions. It appears to me that only now that he has passed away do you feel any sense of loss. My question is where was this sense of loss before hand? Instead of facing reality, you pass the blame off onto me. Did I ever detour your hands from picking up the phone to call him? We both know that I am not to blame for your deteriorated relationship, all I did was reap what you sowed.”
These words stung me more than I cared to admit. I forced down the tears that started to form in my eyes, and choked out a response. “ I am the first to admit that we all make mistakes in life. Yes, my pride has put me in this awkward situation but that does not mean that I cannot feel a sense of loss. We are human because we feel, good or bad. I cannot dismiss my emotions, because they are a part of who I am. You ask us to suppress our emotions and to take an objective approach to death; I say it is impossible to separate the two. It is natural to feel a sense of loss at a funeral; this helps us deal with the passing of the person. You are right in a sense we do reap what we sow, but how long must we suffer for our mistakes? Death has robbed me of my chance to change my failing relationship with my father. I am now forced to live the rest of my life with this guilt, and to this I ask what is the reason?
“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone,” was all he said. In the next instant he was gone as if he was never there, only his departing words, which hung in the air, reminded me of his visit. In that moment I saw death for what he was. He is the bringer of hope and hardship, both the creator and the destroyer. He is a blind god, striking down friend and foe alike as he swings his scythe without pity and hatred. The words of Maya Angelo helped eased my mind “I answer the heroic question "Death, where is thy sting?" with "It is here in my heart and mind and memories."