The past two weeks have been a little insane, at least from the perspective of tragic events. Two weeks ago, a friend of mine from college, George Jamison, was shot and killed during a robbery attempt. Last week, a childhood friend, Elise Soroka, succumbed to a post-op infection, after a successful liver transplant.
How do you even approach things like these? The first is blind chance, and senseless violence. The second is blind chance, and infection.
In fiction, we can use time travel, and any one of thousands of tropes, to cope with death. We stop it. We start it. We rewind it and spin it in different directions. As authors, we live in worlds of our own creation and control… sometimes until real life pulls us out of the happy grass shack.
I will not be so bold as to tell you what to believe, or suggest a personal spirituality that might fit you; that would be presumptuous. I will share that my own spiritual journey has more switchbacks than unpaved country roads… even more reason not to get up in yours. There seem to be just a few things that ring true across the world, and I work to hold to those things. Love one another, because life is better that way. This world is not our end.
We grieve because we hurt. Honestly, it is a selfish thing, because there’s nothing that our loved one needs now. We grieve, and have such a hard time rejoicing.
A New Orleans style funeral.
An Irish wake.
In the old days, someone who passed away was seen as being freed from the sour dross of mortal life. The toil of work would never touch them. Hunger would never cramp their bellies. A taskmaster’s lash would only strike empty air.
The dead were the lucky ones.
My friends have died, lucky to be relieved of the lash, and I am still here. Their transition to whatever comes next leads me to grief, but it also leads me to praise them, hold a kind of joy that they were in my life in the first place, and hope.
If there is a heaven, I will see them again. If there is a great oneness that we all return to, it will remember that we were us, and we will be one again, as we once were. Should we reincarnate, our paths may cross again, and some spark might bring us together… even closer than we were the last time around.
What if there’s nothing after we die?
The shocking truth of nature is that you and I are the stuff that the universe is made of. I may never know who reads this, but at one time, your atoms and my atoms exploded into being…we either emerged from nothing together, or we emerged from a place where EVERYTHING was ONE.
Atoms, those cheerful building blocks, don’t stop when we die. They go on. They merge into other things, transform, dance, create… and in an infinite universe, of infinite possibilities… may meet again.
Elise, George, let’s meet again, and dance in the hearts of stars.