“I WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE HIM PICKED UP BY NOW… NO RUSH THOUGH, TAKE AS MUCH TIME AS YOU NEED”
I walked slowly to the corner of the cold, sterile room.
Overcome with dread. I opened the curtain and snailed a few feet closer to the bed.
My dad was dead.
“I SEEM TO HAVE LOST YOU BUT A MOMENT AGO. FOR WHAT IS NOT A MOMENT AGO WHEN ONE BEGINS TO USE THE MEMORY… [IT WAS] BUT A MOMENT AGO THAT I BEGAN TO PLEAD IN THE COURTS, BUT A MOMENT AGO THAT I LOST THE DESIRE TO PLEAD, BUT A MOMENT AGO THAT I LOST THE ABILITY. INFINITELY SWIFT IS THE FLIGHT OF TIME…”SENECA, LETTERS FROM A STOIC
I had only been to one funeral in my life before and never saw the body. Still shocked hours after I heard the news I talked with him for a few minutes.
He suffered from Alzheimers. In the last few years… communication or maintaining any relationship with him was hard.
I wondered how many lucid thoughts he was having. Even when he could still remember older memories it still felt like he was already gone.
At best, he was a shell of the man I grew up with.
Many of his interests and habits changed in the years leading up to his self imposed dementia (it turns out you can do that).
How do we handle fear? What makes it big and scary?
We’re the only mammals on earth that feel fear when we can no longer sense immediate danger.
Not all fear is bad though. It all depends on our reaction to non urgent fears. Our instincts can be to run right now.
Running isn’t a good idea for GRIZZLY AND BLACK BEAR ATTACKS. BUT IT IS YOUR BEST BET AT SURVIVAL IF SOMEONE PULLS A WEAPON ON YOU.
If you continue to ask yourself what you’re afraid of, at some point you will arrive at the fear behind all of our fears — death.
“WHY DO YOU TORMENT YOURSELF AND LOSE WEIGHT OVER SOME PROBLEM WHICH IT IS MORE CLEVER TO HAVE SCORNED THAN TO SOLVE?”SENECA, LETTERS FROM A STOIC
My dad tried to extend his life as much as he thought he could. He generally believed the longer he lived the better.
He always played it close to the vest. Only revealing some truths in moments of rage and frustration.
He once yelled in reaction to losing control some of his bodily functions ‘I SHOULD FUCKING KILL MYSELF”
Before he worried about suicide he worried all everything else.
Most of all, he wanted to be left alone.
More than the desire to be independent he had thoughts he preferred to keep hidden. He took nearly all his secrets to the grave. Not taking many risks in life or making many genuine connections with other people is a recipe for the painfully small funeral.
In stark contrast, the only other funeral I went to was by a man who had an incredible effect on other people.
He was loved by many. He was a generous and fun loving guy. He didn’t care what you looked like, he could make a connection to anyone he wanted to.
Even with his large family present, there were significantly more friends and acquaintances who came to see him off.
We weren’t close but many of my friends were. Despite this, the amount of devastation I felt that day was overwhleming.
The tears started early and often. Even after I thought I could cry no longer my body found a way to generate more.
His death was beyond tragic. His mother’s wailing cries and the memory of his funeral is burned into my brain.
Listening to Still Remains reminds me of that day.
I always prefer to remember him by the last time I saw him in person.
My brother and I were standing at an ATM machine in a crowded retail space, the aroma of garlic, meat and oily foods filled the downtown twilight air…
I felt someone slap my back HARD
“IT’S THE DONOFRIO BROTHERS!”
Whenever I saw him, he was happy.
Yet without much warning in the end, he took his own life.
“YOU ARE MISTAKEN IF YOU THINK THAT ONLY ON AN OCEAN VOYAGE THERE IS A VERY SLIGHT SPACE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH. NO, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN IS JUST AS NARROW EVERYWHERE. IT IS NOT EVERYWHERE THAT DEATH SHOWS HIMSELF SO NEAR AT HAND; YET EVERYWHERE HE IS NEAR AT HAND.”SENECA, LETTERS FROM A STOIC
It’s not easy making sense of a man’s life. Learn what you can from those around you.
If a small funeral or tragic death scares you, remind yourself that a good life isn’t determined by your number of years. I’ve always used fun and laughter as measurements myself. To have fun is to enjoy yourself and other people. To have laughter is to have community with everyone who has ever laughed.
What does living a good life mean to you?
Is family a refuge or a sinkhole for you?
Do you have some goal for what “success” looks like for a happy life? Move in this direction without focusing on a destination.
Please share your thoughts on life and what makes a good one to me below and all your friends.
Express your gratitude to your friends and family.
You need it and the person you want to share it with needs it even more.
“WASTE NO MORE TIME ARGUING WHAT MAKES A GOOD MAN, BE ONE.”MARCUS AERELIUS, MEDITATIONS