NEWSFLASH: We Are All Going to Die

May 2, 2008

headstoneI know, you know that already.

I thought I knew it too.  I have always known this, intellectually.

But I never KNEW until a short time ago.

You see, I’ve managed to live thirty-something odd years and NEVER lose someone I REALLY love.  Oh, there was that coworker that died about nine years back.  I went to the funeral, I cried, but it didn’t affect me deep down.  I lost a second cousin here, an uncle there, and I was always sad.  But these were never people to whom my heart was deeply attached.

When my grandfather died, it was a huge blow.  Oh sure, he was 93.  Sure, he lived through Jim Crow, and lived long enough to see a black man have a fighting chance at the presidency.  He lived to see my children.  Heck, he lived long enough to see some of his great-grandchildren have children.  By all accounts he was a good man and a good father.  He lived a good life.  Doesn’t make it hurt less.

After the burial we all gathered at the home of his sister (the last of about 8 siblings).  I looked around and saw funerals instead of people. I looked at my mom and saw her funeral.  I looked at my aunt and saw her funeral.  I wondered where I would be buried, and which of my mother’s children would be the first to die. I started thinking, “When cousin Hallie dies, will I go to the funeral?  What about cousin Joyce?  I’m sure I’ll make the trip south for Aunt Candy’s funeral…”

It’s funny, how the world just kept right on spinning after my grandfather passed.  I broke into sobs when my aunt called me with the news.  But even I, who loved him so much, had to keep functioning.  There were still children to be fed, laundry to do and diapers to change.  I still had to make sure to pay the bills on time and wipe the breadcrumbs from the kitchen counter.

And even though I’m a major figure in my little world, when I die the world and the people in it will keep right on going.  Makes me think, again, about what I’m doing with my time.  Once the bell tolls, my time’s up. 

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