Isn’t it interesting how we avoid talking about someone’s impending death when they are alive, and then feel even more uncomfortable or emotional mentioning them once they are dead? The fundamental, incontrovertible fact of death is one we have pushed into the closet, neither discussing it enough, nor embracing it enough. Ironically, in it’s acknowledgment and remembrance – life takes on a whole new depth.
Perhaps the best party marking Sameer’s birthday was the one immediately after his death. Full credit to our many friends for participating in this celebration of his life. Though he died at a fairly young age, Sameer enjoyed the time he was given. He made the best of every minute he had. Knowing you have a short life can be quite motivating to being who you are and doing whatever you want to do, regardless of anyone else’s perceptions or judgements. The participative indulgence of our many friends in this unusual party is a testament to how well he demonstrated this.
Less than two months after his demise, on Sameer’s birthday, a large group of friends met at our regular pub, downing his favorite food and drink while the DJ (another friend) played the music he swore by (Sting, drums and saxaphone). One brought cake, another a collage of snaps of the good old times, and all of us laughed at Sameer’s quirks and eccentricities (he had plenty!), as we swapped ‘Sam stories’. Some friends had been to the funeral, and some had been out of town at that time, hence were meeting together for the first time since his death. But despite the strangeness of it, and the awkwardness some of them felt, I saw deep friendship and acceptance in that room. Of course there was some sadness, some grief, some sense of loss. But somewhere, I felt it made sense to everyone. Why should Sameer having shed his physical form take away from any of this? To love, to laugh, to connect, to cry – to accept the comings and goings of life in its completeness – it is so natural.
Once we stop walking on the eggshells of our own making – life in itself is simple and straightforward.
Nine years later, I still have friends tell me how they can never forget this approach to living and dying. So I thought I would share it here on Sameer’s birthday. As an invitation to anyone who happens to read this:
Would you please let yourself acknowledge and remember that you and your loved ones won’t be around in this form forever?
and the natural corollary, Remembering this, is there anything you would like to do different in the way you are living and loving today?
We live, we die. What we do with the time we have in this form is upto us.
(Personally, I quite like the idea of being aware of the limited time I have and making the best use of it for drawing out and exploring all facets of myself. If it means questioning systems and breaking some rules, so be it.
If it happens to result in leaving behind some happiness for having known me at all, great! After all, if we are going to write a story, may as well make it a good one, right?)
How about you? Would you rather continue to sidestep the topic, or by embracing it – find the courage to live fully?