There is life after death.
A bright, generous, funny and downright loveable man shuffled off his mortal coil at 8:42 p.m. on the twenty-second of
September of this year. The privilege of his company for at least three or four
hours a day, every day (but for about four) was mine for the last four months
and some-odd days of his life. Would that I'd spent that many days with him in
the fifteen years preceding onset of the sinister slippery slope of
sickness that would eventually cause his passing.
Moments the quality of which are near peak-experiences (or at the very least
life-milestones): the first taste of
good Scotch, first sip of very old Bordeaux, first marijuana high, first
seemingly magnificent sense of awareness on
LSD , and the like; are for me still vivid and delightful. But those moments
were all firsts at things that one must acquire a taste
for. That those moments were "firsts" admits that the seconds, thirds,
fiftieths could eventually become boring (and were indeed harmful).
The most recent moments spent alone with him were immediately
rewarding and left a lovely lingering lightheadedness that no supple,
smooth spirit nor exotic mind-altering substance could match. To think that
listening to the story of biscuits baked in a steamy tropical military outpost
in 1946 could be a peak-experience. Of course, the mechanics of biscuit-baking
when told are not the stuff of magnificent memories. The telling of the sheer
glee experienced by he who ate the biscuits, and shared the biscuits generously
and selflessly with his comrades; now that's the stuff I remember now and hope
and pray I'll remember as long as I live.
Whether it was he, or God, or the stars who decided, I don't care. He was to
breathe his last breath as I held his hand that evening in September. He'd
spoken many times of the peak-experience of holding me as a child for the
first time. Now, I held him in my arms for what I knew would be the last
time. The circle had come around. Was it inappropriate that mixed with immediate
feelings of grief were feelings of joy; joy that I'd had the privilege to be
there; joy that his struggle had ended? How awesome the responsibility that came
to rest upon my shoulders at that moment; to remember him, not as I'd remember
him but as he had intimated that he'd like to be remembered.
No morbid dwelling on childhood's growing pains, no tear-blurred gazes at old
photographs, no selfish weeping over the agony of absence permanent. What
my life after his death is like is a celebration of the part of him that is in me.
Moving forward through this strange adventure, more conscious of him than I ever
was when he was alive, is serene and colorful. No, no, no; no dark, gloomy nor
hopeless place for me. Speak his wisdom, a voice inside me says. Live his
dreams. Reiterate his advice and the wisdom of his sage, old soul to all who'll
listen. Embrace his humility. Emulate, at every chance, his generosity. To do those things will be a much more
significant way to honor his memory than to speak flowery, praise-filled
eulogies; engrave plaques; or even carve his name in a slab of granite and raise
it up in some important place.
Yes, indeed, there is life after death.