Family and friends were gathered in a picturesque setting in the Berkeley Hills to bid farewell to this young man who succumbed to cancer 12 days before. Beautiful heartfelt words were spoken. Stories told antidotes shared quotes read. Tears and laughter. Heads bowed heads raised. Solemn. A tragedy made into a celebration. How else can one respond to the death of a young person who was deprived of the rich full life he richly deserved? Weeping and wailing must be accompanied with smiles and laughs or it defeats us fully as it does our reason.
It was at times too much for me to bear. I carry with me the recent deaths of two good friends and my only brother and a former student who died at 16. Not to mention parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles. There is a ceaselessness to death which reminds us of our being alive and that "our time will come" too. And there's no telling when.
Parents. The mother spoke. The father looked crushed. The fact of his son's dying had been known for months but there is no amount of time that is enough to prepare. The father looked suddenly quite old and defeated. As the words poured out from others I thought of him sitting some rows in front of me and wanted to pitch forward and sob. I was angry. I was confused. What was I doing there? I hadn't known the lad so very well. But both of my daughters did. I had known correctly that I must be there for he had touched my life and I his. The poor dad. No replacement for the loss of an only son. This was not. Right.
Internally I keened. The injustice. The cruelty of life. The desperation to be useful purposeful meaningful helpful. Full. Full. Full. We want to be full now with eternal empty waiting.
I ruminate about mortality everyday. Without exception. I find this comforting. It makes much more sense to me then ignoring the finality of existence. Life is all the richer when considered in relation to its opposite.
It is is important. It is paramount. To be happy. Very happy. And to help others to be likewise. Reduce human suffering. Lift spirits. Take that raw and vibrant anger that stalks us and turn it into a raging force for improvement. We are all creators. We can make better lives and feelings and things or we can let our anger destroy. We can.
And so I seek not meaning nor purpose but fulfillment. Clutching. Snapped out of the fog last night with a stark reminder that what we have is. What we have is. Is. And that verb to be is an extraordinary piece of cosmic luck not to be squandered. Feel it all but succumb to none. Carry on. Be.