Thursday, August 6, 2015

On Life, Death, and Love

YM sat in the parking lot of the relatively new church building. He had arrived ten minutes early for the funeral. He didn't like funerals—they had a way of grasping his emotions and heaving them to and fro with little regard for the consequential toll. He wasn't prepared to spend his Saturday morning among the mourning—he wasn't insensitive, it was just that he hadn't done the necessary emotional preparation and processing. YM knew the deceased and had shared pleasant company with the elderly man several times, who had lived a good, honorable life as attested to by his posterity. It was the first funeral YM had attended where the deceased had been survived by a spouse. It had a different dynamic: every time the elderly yet strong and healthy woman was referred to, all eyes were on her. Would she nod? Would she chuckle? Was she emotionally numb from exhaustion? What was going on in her mind? Was the satisfaction of over a half-century of marriage stronger than the sadness of not reaching a full century with her life-companion?

When will the loneliness start? Will it be overpowering?

YM fixed on the casket. The body of the deceased was lifeless yet etched deep with wrinkles of life's joys and sorrows, pains and pleasures. The line of attendees was overflowing with memories of grandpa, dad, husband; tears for his parting were not scarce. The queue came to a head at the deceased's head: years of deep conversations and pleasantries, once leaving lips and landing on warm ears, now summed up with kiss after kiss, left lips and landed on cold brow.

YM watched the faces of those bidding farewell. The squint, the wrinkled brow, the quivering lip. The hot, stinging tears rolling off the skin as if it were wax were a foil to reality as it lingered and sunk deep below the surface. YM's mirror neurons fired, and he, too, felt the deep stirrings of empathy, as if he were at his own grandpa's funeral.

YM didn't want to die alone. He wanted a strong, healthy, caring companion like the elderly woman had been to the deceased. YM wanted to intertwine his life with another's, like vines. He, too, wanted to one day close a chapter in his book of life, etched with over a half-century's fruits, the shared life experiences with the other vine.

YM once again sat in the parking lot of the relatively new church building with love on his mind and in his heart. Not lust but rather the deep, abiding, ephemeral love that begins with youthful beauty but accompanies the etched wrinkles of life's chisel, the love that perdures through time in memories, the love that YM had seen in several marriages—regardless of the marriage orientation.

YM left the church and drove home, determined to let love—this love that some would confuse with hedonism—guide his life.

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, 
Is just to love and be loved in return."
-Nat King Cole, "Nature Boy"

"It won't be easy, you'll think it strange
When I try to explain how I feel
That I still need your love after all that I've done"
-Andrew Lloyd Webber, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"

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