Once again Winnipeg finds itself either ‘frigid’ or ‘bitter’ depending on the weather site regarding the winter cold. It’s like this heavy mass of arctic air has an emotion. Cold doesn’t have an emotion, just a reflection of our emotions. Nobody describes cold as ‘sad’, but it’s how I feel right now.
A co-worker called in sick on Monday. It’s not a surprise with all the cold and flu pillaging staff around the college. On Tuesday we learned she had a heart attack, one severe enough for life support.
On Wednesday she passed away.
My last words to her was a hasty ‘see you next week’ on my way out the door. Who knew next week would turn into never? Death shouldn’t surprise me anymore. I gone to enough funerals, saw enough journeys to the end to almost take it for granted.
Once I ran with a woman who absolutely feared death. We huffed and puffed between out conversation, but I felt struck by her fear. She’s a die-hard Catholic…why does she fear death? However I remember she feared life as well, namely anyone who doesn’t follow some script life should run on. I learned a long time ago life doesn’t run on a script, a creed, or even a religion. Life runs on love. Life runs on faith. Life runs with other people running with us.
Life also throws situations stopping us in our tracks. Even if we pick up again, occasionally we stop to catch our breathe. Once a person breathed, loved, and walked the earth. Now we hang on to a memory whether it’s their face or their voice. No matter how many years pass since my grandparents and uncles passed away, I stop to collect their faces, or hear their voices. I sometimes worry I made them up as years pass since their deaths. In the service of moving on with life, I fear forgetting, but I also remember the little Portuguese ladies always in black. I still see their sad faces as if joy is off limits.
How do we walk that fine line between life and death? While the major religions speak about heaven or paradise, Kahlil Gibran leaves people with words to remind us to live while we are mindful of our finite time on earth:
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one , even as the river and sea are one.