What Makes Us Cry and Smile and Be Alive in Time

She looked bloated, perhaps a side effect of the mortuary process, embalming fluids reacting poorly or just the result of an inexperienced mortician. I have never seen a cadaver more surreal, so removed from the life it had once held. While there was very little affection left in whatever parts of the body hold onto nostalgia, love, attachment for this woman, I can say that at least in life she was rigorously non-stop. I admire those people who know how to take what they want even when they don’t necessarily want it. Those individuals who are able to stuff an entire lifetime into only a couple of decades or so. While it is strictly a matter of opinion, I imagine, to those souls who live this way, it is necessary, if not better, to burn out than to fade away.

Though little solace that would provide a pair of young boys without their mother, one who’d had no time to get to know her, the other who hadn’t been given the time he was allotted. And brothers, mothers, a father and friends uncalculated, all left behind to stand around making small talk over what was the good, making sure to leave out the massive negative aspects which left them all standing around, sorrowful and awkward. We don’t blame the dead, at least not publicly, for what they have done to us, because life is the most precious thing we have, and so merely being devoid of it is repercussion enough to forgive anyone lacking the quality.

Time and emotions have a deal in place though, and so everyone will begin to forget. Truths will be reshaped because their is no reason to hold onto anything that went wrong, any animosity exercised is spitting at the clouds to stop to the rain. That is why we recall Thomas Jefferson’s greatness and not his hypocrisy, why our parents wrong-doings become our own parenting styles, and why we invented a Jesus we could love to balance a God we can only fear. And so today, as I write this, I wonder who is thinking of her, and how much more time they might need. We only have a limited amount, and those who go before we’re ready forfeit their own time as well as require so much of that left behind.

It isn’t a drug that takes a person’s life, though the coroner’s report would mention this particular drug in nearly every funeral I’ve attended which didn’t involve one of my grandparents and the reality of their old age. Friends with names like Joe or Mike or Josh, normal people, with children left behind sometimes, other times with no one left behind, they didn’t go because of heroin. A twenty something in today’s world, it’s a confusing time. As a society, we preach the ideals of individualism and personal potential. We hang the lures of rock stars and supermodels in front of ourselves, always, the inalienable right that we could all be President if we simply work hard, and that we’re all entitled to not only the pursuit of happiness, but that the pursuit is a simple task, something attainable in less than our 90 years. Of course, happiness is a momentary thing and pursuing it is the very definition of hope, but catching it is like catching a lightning bug in a jar: it’s brilliance lasts for a guaranteed limited time.

I suspect the true cause of so much young death is the simple overwhelming status of our existence. Certainly, many of us make it through, scathed or otherwise, but still ticking along. For those who feel they’re strong, that somehow those who didn’t make it are weak, consider the path you took. If a person dies climbing Mt. Everest, it’s a sure bet they’re stronger than those who instead choose to drive to the grocery store. The mission of your life, how you approach it, is what makes someone strong, not whether or not they complete the task, I would deduce.

So on this Ides of March, some 2050 years after Caesar was assassinated, 2 years after the fact, and some 30 years and a weekend after some random unpublished writer was born, I’m happy to look back through a fog of rewritten history and remember those who went before their natural time for the intensity of life they provided, and hope that we can all do a little living ourselves, while we’ve still got the chance.

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