Only the good die young
"Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return."
So says the Bible, but it is not comforting. Who says letters in cold black and white are reassuring? And yet, this cliche is something people think of when the inevitable happens.
I am thinking of my friends who have lost their mothers. Those mothers who have died young, leaving their children behind to hold a dark shrapnel of pain in their chest instead of the joy of feeling maternal love.
When I was in high school, the mother of one of my high school classmates passed away from cancer. My classmate was calm at the wake - it was eerie. I asked her (me, at that age, never having lost someone close) whether she felt awful.
"I feel sad, but we knew it was going to happen," she said, calmly. "She suffered a lot of agony, and it is good she is now not in pain."
I didn't understand that then. How can you feel better for someone because they died?
It took until my own grandmother passed away for me to understand that my classmate wasn't saying that necessarily because she really felt that was the best thing to have happened, but because that was one way of rationalising the death. My mother and my aunt sat together at a small table set with beer and fruit, a year after their mother's death. My mother's hair was long and grey.
"You know, sometimes when I think of Mum, I feel sad that she had to suffer so much, it still hurts," my mother said to my aunt.
"Sister, you mustn't think of these things. She has passed now," my aunt said. They were still, silent in their sadness, not even looking at each other.
"She was in pain, it was better that she did," my aunt finally said.
As a child, I realised my parents would inevitably pass away, but it was a far, distant prospect, as remote as my turning thirty some day, and chilling on top of that. Now I am reaching that milestone, I realise the idea of losing my parents is as scary as it ever was. Maybe even more so than when I was ten.
Today I wrote a note to a friend whose mother passed away a couple of weeks ago. As I did so, I felt guilty towards another friend of mine, L., whose mother had passed in similarly painful circumstances. I wondered whether I had done anything right then. Had I been understanding for her? She has always been open to deal with any of my problems.
I think I have another note to write.