So you are gone, Mel, my dear colleague, new lunch buddy, younger sister, sweet character full of zest for life. You spent your 34 years loving and enjoying life, helping people, doing your job well. You worked here for 8 years, from assistant to technical lead. Life didn’t treat you all that well. You lost your father at a young age. You were cursed with obesity. You did not have a boyfriend. You fell prey to every flu bug. Too much work was often dumped on you. However, you never seemed to be aware of these misfortunes. You were never grumpy, never sullen, never calculating. You never wasted a minute on malice, on whining, on complaining. You were never pretentious, never hyper, never proud or conceited, never feigned affection or attention. You took death the way you took life: calm, graceful, natural, open-minded, faithful.
Early January, when I was crying alone in my office for Maureen’s death, you happened to drop by. You touched my shoulder and tried to comfort me. Who would have thought that less than half a year later you would be dead too?
Now you have left your body, your suffering. You had enough, I’m sure, in the past three months. You didn’t need anymore. Your beautiful soul is now free, and free to appear as beautiful as it is. Do you have wings now, Mel? Are they white and transparent? You are smiling at me, and saying: “Shouldn’t you be happy for me?”
Yes, I should. Although from my earthling’s point of view, I don’t understand why a young gentle life should be cut short and taken away. I’d rather you had lived longer, met a great guy, had the children you would have loved so well. Since you were a few years younger than I am, you should have died a few years later than me. That’s the right order, the right sequence of life.
I guess we have different destinies, Mel. You lived right, touched many lives, and were ready to go and be spared of further suffering. I have to endure, work my way to perfection and usefulness, live out my destiny.
With you a part of me hath passed away;
For in the peopled forest of my mind
A tree made leafless by this wintry wind
Shall never don again its green array.
And I am grown much older in a day.
But yet I treasure in my memory
Your gift of charity, and young heart’s ease,
And the dear honor of your amity;
For these once mine, my life is rich with these.
And I scarce know which part may greater be —
What I keep of you, or you rob from me.
This is what I say to you, Mel, through George Santayana’s poem.
I sit by the sea, at the rocky corner I call the “worry-forgetting point”. It is here that my existence converges with the grand universe. This is where I realize God is not the god of my small crappy world, but the god of this immense beautiful time and space, this much larger being, this eternity, containing much wonder beyond human imagination and understanding.
This is where I reflect on the lasting values of life. What counts, what does not. This is where I evaluate my actions and plans, and adjust my mindset. For a while the sense of self disappears, and I watch the universe running all the same with me gone. This is what it will be when I am dead. I know it for a fact, but it is hard to imagine beyond one’s existence. We are so limited and short-sighted.
I imagine that when we are all dead we become energy randomly traveling back and forth in the universe. However, the love and struggle we shared bear a permanent mark, some kind of code or signal, so we can recognize each other again. When we meet we will nod and smile, in our own way, in a wisp of fire, in a burst of light. Then we’ll continue on traveling with a renewed and strengthened core. In another world, in another time, in another form, we will be born again, and again we will live and fight for love, beauty, truth and justice, in their possibly higher and broader meanings which we will be capable of understanding by then.