We die. It is the only guarantee that we will have in this lifetime. Why then, are we so afraid of passing? When diving deep, one can find our fear of death at the foundation of all other fears. Our society has led us to believe that death is the end, a place we want to avoid at all cost. Yes, death is dark. Yes, death is a mystery. But isn't it in the darkness that we find the light? And doesn't facing death unveil the truth of the mystery? Logically, it makes sense. But it is usually the heart that needs more convincing than the mind. Human beings fear the unknown. Understandably so. Where we don't know, we don't go.
I feared death as far back as I can remember as a child. Not my own in particular, but of those around me. And when I entered adulthood, the grave anticipation of the day that death would appear in my life still lingered. I had yet to experience the loss of a family member or a friend. My first encounter with death came at the age of 22. I sat in the home of the only grandparent I had ever known, along with his 4 children (including my mother), my father, and my sister. I watched first hand, his soul leave his body. While it was sad to witness the pain his children were experiencing, it was also incredibly endearing. How lucky he was to leave this life surrounded by so much love. And how lucky for his children, and selfishly me too, to be able to bless his life in his last moments. I was shocked that the sadness I felt was more for the people whom he left behind, and not really at the loss of his life. Somehow, he didn't really feel gone. Physically gone yes, but spiritually he felt closer than ever. I was confused by this, and questioned myself for being cold hearted. Why was I not grieving? Why did his death make me feel so serene? They were questions I hadn't answers for at the time.
My second encounter with human loss came with my little brother. 26 short years; a life lost too soon. The pain one endures when losing a sibling is indescribable. and never really given the attention it deserves. Typically, when a life is lost, the sympathy is reflected towards the parents and/or the surviving spouse and children. Never the sibling. They are the ones who are expected to be strong; to support the parents, to support the spouse. Often people ask me, "how are your parents?", never do they ask me, "how are you?". But when a life leaves, one who has been raised with you side by side, a part of you leaves too. A part you can't get back. Ever. And while some may find this a travesty, I've tried to find it a blessing. Because now I know that he is not alone. That all the little pieces of the hearts broken by his death that departed, now travel with him. Where ever that may be. He is the embodiment of our earthly love.
The biggest lesson I took from Jay's flight, is that death is an end but it is not the end. I feel my brother alive around me all the time. Everyday. Do I still miss him? Yes, actually now more than ever. But when I stop and I am quiet, I can hear him in my heart and feel him on my skin. This reminds me that he isn't really gone and that my love didn't die with him. That I get to go right on loving him for the rest of my time here. This makes me happy, this brings me joy. There is a peaceful acceptance that comes with this understanding-and a knowing that death really isn't something to fear. It isn't something to avoid, in fact it should be revered. It too has beauty, when you learn to trust the mystery... When you can not just embrace the reality of the inevitable but welcome it into your heart. And who knows? It may just be the doorway to our most magical journey yet.