Before We Die
It’s not an uncommon occurrence, someone dies, and while giving a eulogy, or viewing the body, or lowering the coffin, or even standing in front of the gravestone, someone else, someone alive, is making promises, saying sorry, and sharing memories. We see this in movies and we see it in life. It’s a touching thought to remember the dead. It makes for a romantic scene.
There’s only one problem: that person we’re remembering, or apologizing to, or making promises to, is dead. Our words and commitments are of no value to him.
At best, his memory is more for us, the living, and members of those who loved him in life. Yet did we really love him? Or did his passing remind us of our love? Why only remember him now? Was he not important enough to remember alive? Was he not valuable enough to lower our pride for? Were the promises made to him not worth fulfilling in his lifetime?
There is something about death that sobers us, that reminds us that we’re living on borrowed time. At the same time it fixes our perspective. All of a sudden, our aging parents become more important than our careers. All of a sudden we wish we made amends. All of a sudden we wish we weren’t so proud to say “I’m sorry”, “I miss you”, “I love you”. All of a sudden, we wish we were better towards someone. All of a sudden it doesn’t matter if it’s too far, too traffic, or too late, we make the trip to pay our respects.
During wakes, with the idea of death still fresh, we spend a few days correcting our perspectives, yet in the days and weeks that follow, when the cares of life return, and life has many meaningless cares, such as what people think of us, we forget what we learned. We busy ourselves with the temporary and take for granted the eternal. There are eternal things you know. There is Heaven, eternal life with God, and there is Hell, eternal life without God, and there are souls in both.
The dead only have one lesson for the living: LIVE. Live while you’re alive. Love while you’re alive. To love life doesn’t mean doing whatever you feel like doing – that’s loving yourself. To love life means to love things with life, including nature, more importantly people, and most important, the source of all life, God, and to spend your own life valuing the living and life-giving.