“Remember that one good moment of the time you spent with him and hold onto it….”. The sombre words reverberated in the church hall as my sister inlaw delivered an emotional eulogy.
Yet again death had sucked the last breath out of a loved one’s body. This time our 21 year old nephew who most of us painfully realised we cherished more than we had let him know.
For many, this is not a strange feeling and more so during funerals. This though must never be the norm and as I sat next to the white casket, it dawned that in this moment, another lesson was being re-echoed by and through death.
This particular one came a year and two months fresh after the demise of my father in 2012. My nephew’s death now loudly rang a reminder inside me that the attention accorded to death’s lessons was insufficient.
Living that moment now
Take a while and think through how often we have so many good thoughts we never verbalised when our loved ones were with us.
We are gifted each day with the opportunity to show our affection, pour out our love and enjoy each moment we get with our special ones whilst we have them.
However, many a time this is opportunity spurned due to a misleading unconscious belief that we will all be around tomorrow.
Sadly the truth is that no one can guarantee that with convincing certainity. Even the brightest of minds, richest of lives and most powerful of men have met their inevitable fate without a hint of the precise date or time they will die. Even the person that opts for suicide on a certain day may or may not die.
That in itself should jolt us into rethinking how we handle our relationships, choices and gifts each day. What we have today may well be gone tomorrow.
The permeating truth is that more often than not the death of someone close leaves us with more regret than joy. Not because we are sad to experience the physical departure or we had no clue they would be gone some day.
It simply is because we took it all for a ride.
The final goodbye, unheard and unknown
When I got to see dad a week before he passed on, he had already slipped into unconsciousness. So for those final moments, it was all a monologue. Those words and sentiments of affection a little too late.
This time I was staring at the lifeless body of a young man, resplendent in white. The flashes came back. Those moments I should have listened more than I did. The calls I should have made and that one extra minute I perhaps could have given him.
Alas that was an opportunity lost. Nothing could compensate for it. Not the actions to pull him out of the mortuary or ensure he was well groomed for his last ride in that casket. It was futile now and did not matter. For he sure knew nothing at this stage and had no idea I or anyone else was there. He was no more.
The future repeated
Our biggest challenge is that we have been here before. We have shed these tears before, felt the emptiness of lost chances and broken relationships. But we pay no attention.
With immediacy after a solemn occasion such as this, effortlessly the status quo before the funeral is revived.
As we wheeled the casket to the hearse, the church service over, it was clear death’s voice was not loud enough.
It is the same relationships I have that I would be going back to. Taking them for granted. Keeping those warm words unsaid. Finding it easier to be prejudiced, judgemental and less patient. Only realising what we had and lost when the tears stream down our cheeks when death strikes again.
My sister inlaw’s words pierced the silence of the church. I could hear sobs around the hall as she concluded her heartfelt eulogy to a dear nephew.
I wondered whether this one time many of us had heard the loud voice of death offering timeless lessons.
It could well be you or that person you cherish the most on the last ride.
Death has already provided an overriding enormously rich lesson………….
Do it now.