As I looked back on my death, which hasn’t happened yet, I wondered why I deserved the treatment I received. As I remember my parents last rites and how theirs played out, I tried to compare what I was seeing of mine to what I remembered of theirs and was surprised how normal and matter-of-fact it all seemed. There was no real script yet everything seemed so familiar.
It was a dream, you know, not the real thing. I wasn’t really dead but I was looking at what happened immediately following the occasion of my death and funeral. Like an out-of-body experience of the night-time kind.
My daughters were all distraught and there was much crying. Quite enough to go around. They talked well of me and commiserated with each other for quite some time. They discussed the spreading of my ashes in some great forest and when they would accomplish this act, among other things.
There were some others there who, for what ever reason, said they were my friends and wanted to pay their respects. Others, who I thought were my friends, couldn’t make it and I’m glad I wasn’t around to hear the excuses.
The next day, there was still sorrow in the air but a sense of normalcy was starting to come back and fewer tears were being shed. The talk of me was starting to die down and talk of other things, normal to life, were once again beginning to surface. Life, as it always does, goes on.
As the weeks and months passed, thoughts of me began to dwindle. Pictures got shuffled further back on the shelf and dust wasn’t wiped off quite so often. The silent tear on the pillow had dried for the last time or, at the very least, occurred far less often than before. I was still the father but I was rapidly becoming a distant memory, as well I should.
Life, as they say, is for the living and the dead must make room. Memories have their place and it is not to interfere with life. Memories should bring happy thoughts when they surface. They should be given a place of respect on the lower shelf where they will be easily seen, if they have earned that spot or, placed on a high shelf and out of sight if they have not.
My memories of my parents are in a place of respect. Yes, they are pushed a little further back on the lower shelf and yes, the dust has gathered a little as well. It has been a long time and though I don’t think of them as often as I did before, they are never far away nor will they ever be. I have warm and loving thoughts of them. I treasure every memory because, after all is said and done, what else have we? They are what we remember them to be nothing more and nothing less. They live only in our minds and hearts and all who meet them now are meeting them through us. Through our eyes.
Though my death has not yet happened, it is as inevitable as the sun rising in the morning. I shall continue to walk through that which is left of my life and hope my children will look upon it with some amount of pride. Was I not too bad? Was I not too right all of the time? Was I fair with my fellow man. Was I honest with myself and others? Above all else, did I love my children enough to last them their entire lifetime? If I have failed at everything else, let me have succeeded at least at that. If I have done that one thing well today, then, when it arrives, I will happily bid tomorrow ….. good-bye.