Monday, August 18, 2008

Points of Rememberance

Yesterday I went to the funeral of a girl whom I have know since we were five, and whom I was quite close with in our teenage years.
She was strikingly beautiful and a wonderful singer. She was religious in ways I could never comprehend, her God was not one that I could even consider let alone know. Her life was hard but her faith guided her steadfast. She was kind and caring. But more than anything she was a wealth of wisdom that was more than anyone our age possessed. Between her unwavering beliefs and her worldly notions, she always seemed just out of reach to me. A treat on a high shelf that I would never quite be able to get to.

I remember the first time she spent the night at my house, we were seven. She couldn't comprehend how I could sleep with my closet light on, how I would be afraid of the dark. I was angry because, what's not to get? Even then she wasn't just fearless but lacked any notion of childlike dread. She convinced me that just this one time, I would be safe because she would be next to me, which meant nothing else could be.

As her adult life began unfolding she decided on her dreams and took hold of the reigns. Instead of making plans for someday, she made plans for today. In her short life she visited 7% of the world, including most of Europe, Australia and lots of Asia. She backpacked through eastern Asia for 6 1/2 weeks by herself. She had a passion to see the world, to know people, to learn about everyone she could meet and to help them in any way she knew how.

And on Monday night, she wrote her mom an e-mail telling her that her back hurt so bad she was afraid to go to bed.
But she did.

At her service her aunt explained that her heart was too big for her body to contain, and that's why it stopped.

Is it possible that she knew somehow, consciously or subconsciously, that she would live a short life and that she had to live it to the brink?

I've been wondering this for a while.

A friend of mine lost her daughter to a brain tumor at the age of nine. This little girl was not bothered by the issues that plague most little kids, she didn't cry when she didn't get the toy she wanted, she didn't pout when things didn't go her way. She was kind, and loving and could never grasp why anyone would ever be mad at anyone for any reason because there is too much goodness in the world, too many reasons to be happy. She seemed more in tune with emotions and had words of wisdom that couldn't have possibly come from her own experiences.

She would also constantly ask her mother "how old will you be when I die?"
At the time, these questions just seemed bizarre and macabre. But in hindsight...

I asked my friend once if she thought her daughter knew she only had a short life to live and that's why she jammed so much happiness into it.
"I hope not", she replied. "I could never be ok with the notion that my daughter always knew she would die"

But for me? I find it comforting. At least that if they somehow knew, even if it was within the depths of their souls that they could only hear as faint whisper, they were made aware of their untimely doom and given the opportunity to seize what brief time they had.
The other thought I've had racing through my head is one that we all have when faced with death in whatever capacity.
When you die, what will people say about you? Will you be happy with your story when the last chapter is written?

If I were to die tomorrow I'm confident that people would talk about my humor, my independence, my desire to go gently against the grain. Doing what I did because it made me happy, not because I was supposed to do it. But mostly, that I loved fiercely and cherished the ones I loved explicitly.

It forced me to acknowledge that I am happy with myself, my life.

What will people say at your eulogy? Tell me with explicit truth, don't be afraid of coming across cocky or arrogant, what are the things people will remember about you?


Vanessa said...

Boy you ask the hard questions! I think people will remember me for my love of animals, gentle spirit and love of adventure.