The Meaning of Death

Not for the first time in the last few years, my daughters are attending a funeral today. A funeral for a friend, classmate, schoolmate. There are few things in this world that qualify as sadder. The flame of youth extinguished before a life really gets to be fully lived.

It always makes me sad to think about these things. Really, isn’t that the point? Life has many lessons it teaches us over the years. All those lessons are not necessarily easy. Nor are they meant to be.

It is overcast, raining, chilly. Perfect weather for a funeral you might say.

And what a pile of crap that is. I think of the boy’s family and I can’t think the weather even comes to mind. The broken hearts. The empty space. Minds flowing over what might have, what could have…

I’m not going to explain how the boy died because it doesn’t change the facts.

The day it happened I grabbed one of my daughters and said ‘and you wonder why we worry’? But she already knew that.

The beauty of youth is that nothing bad ever happens to you. Anything you do, right or wrong, will work out in the end. As a father, I both love and hate that fact. As a father, you hope the choices made will not be the wrong ones. As a father, I can only hope I never have to receive the phone call the boy’s father received.

For my girls, this is their third funeral in just over a year. Stunningly two of the three deaths have been from the same circle of friends. These two people had a mutual best friend. What does a teenager think when her two best friends die so close together? How can she ever believe that this is fair?

I have no idea if God exists. I have days where I hope so and I have days where events make me think that no God would allow this. Some of the events are major, causing hundreds or thousands of deaths. Some events are so small that their meaning is multiplied by the magnification of what that one life meant to so many.

Is the boy in heaven today? Is he looking down? And what level of love would eradicate the knowledge of the pain? What God would simply wave a hand to disavow a boy’s family’s feelings for the boy?

As with many ideals, it is all too simple to think that way. So whether the soul goes to some other place, the life force is absorbed into the ether or the memories are all that’s left, the only truth is that he is gone.

His loss has made my kids sad. His loss had made me just that much more fearful. His loss has also touched the thousand plus students at his school, school staff, his extended family, friends of friends, coworkers, former coworkers, neighbours and on. As small a world as it sometimes seems, the force of a single life is felt across both distance and time.

The truth is that he did live. The truth is that he did experience. The truth is that he made a difference in so many ways that I couldn’t possibly figure them all out. The truth is that people liked him. The truth is that people loved him. And I’m sure there were people who had all kinds of different emotions towards him. Such is the reality of living.

To all you parents out there, just hug your kid today if you can. Tell them you love them every single day.

To all the kids out there, no lectures from me. Just tell your parents you love them every single day. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends you care.

And I know you don’t need to ask me what it means. Because the answer is that it’s the life that was led. As short or as long as it is. And it always brings along a rather poigant reminder. That no matter how much you plan, prepare and protect, you just never know…

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3 Responses to The Meaning of Death

  1. Cliff Bechard says:

    Amen, Larry. Life to ALL of us, is precious. My heart goes out to your daughter and her friend’s famlies.

  2. deborah orandon says:

    The fact that death is as pervasive and present as life, that it pummels us with its fact day in and day out, doesn’t make the deaths of the people we know, any easier. It’s as if our brains still aren’t big enough to comprehend it & get stuck in the swirl of disbelief. It am so sorry for what your daughters and their classmates are going through. The best we can do is open communication about the grieving, never dam up the expression of the grieving, never let there be a statute of limitations on how long it is supposed to take to “get over” it. We don’t bounce back from these losses, we slowly assimilate and integrate the incomprehensible information and are forever changed by them.

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