Honor the dead. Respect the dead. Don’t speak ill of the dead.
Combine these mantras, born from the superstitions of our ancestors, with a guilt-ridden Catholic upbringing, and the ensuing angst I experienced when DEATH paid a visit to my splintered, dysfunctional extended family this week was inevitable.
I won’t go into the sordid details—they probably aren’t much different than other splintered-family’s tales. I’m sure any convoluted scenario you can imagine is not far off the mark. But even though I am, mercifully, one pace removed from it all, it still leaves me feeling as if an elephant is sitting on my chest. And maybe that is the problem; not being as close to the scene provides me with a wider perspective, leaving me squarely in the middle looking left-to-right at the opposing factions. My vantage point can no longer provide any usefulness, however. DEATH brings finality and renders things, once virulent, impotent.
Lao Tsu said: A violent man will die a violent death. You might amend that to say a negative man will die a negative death, or an angry man will die an angry death. . . just fill in the blanks. The little naive girl in me would like to think that all men will die peaceful deaths, but the wizened old woman knows these kinds of endings mostly only happen in fairy tales.
I wish things could have been different. I wish people, in the end, could have forgotten about Earthly things. But the Dead leave behind the Living, with all the unpleasant, but necessary, baggage that comes with physical existence.
No matter what, however, my upbringing is hard to overcome and I DO honor and respect the dead; willingly forgetting all that was negative and choosing to remember only the good. I mourn a life cut short and dreams never realized. And, in the final seconds of life, I choose to think DEATH came peacefully.