Death is such a touchy subject, isn’t it? We are born with such promise, with the entirety of our lives stretching out before us in a line that seems endless. But it’s not. In fact, at the moment of conception, even, we are beginning the ironic journey of living and dying at the same time. I look in the mirror at these gray hairs and realize that I’m 37 years old, that for over 37 years I’ve been slowly dying, and that I’ll be lucky to see 37 more years pass while I’m still on this earth. I also realize how fortunate I am that death is there, at the end of the hopefully long journey.
Don’t get me wrong, I am afraid of death, but not the idea of it. When actual death comes for me I will probably be anxious and afraid. We always fear the unknown, and I have no idea what waits for me on the other side of that abyss. The Bible says that there is nothing after death, that our bodies decay and that our spirits go back to our creator, which sounds peaceful of course. And it’s what is brought up the most by ministers at funeral services to soothe those who remain. He always says that our souls will meet theirs again in the great by and by. But we are more than our souls. We are also these bodies that the souls inhabit. If we believe in this after image, will we even recognize ourselves or others then? Yes, death itself scares the bejeezus out of me. Because of its uncertainty.
Yet, the idea of death is a soothing one, that one day all of these issues and problems we have on this earth will be gone, at least for us. All the major problems we’ve faced, the people we’ve hurt, the pain we’ve experienced here, that will all be gone. The idea that this life is temporary holds a massive appeal to me, and I’m sure to so many others too. That’s not to say that I don’t love my life. To the contrary. My wife and children, and my extended family and friends, are wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade them in for the world, but I also exist as an individual, and I’ve gone through so much individually that others can’t begin to fathom. We all have, as human beings. And we all long for rest. We don’t actually lie down and try to get to that rest faster, but looking down the line we think we will embrace it when it comes for us.
“For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” -Philippians 1:21
I know, I went and got all morbid on you. I can do that on occasion, but it wasn’t a negative thought at all. It was acceptance that with life inevitably comes death, and that it doesn’t have to be a scary proposition. We live on after death in the people who remember us, in the people for whom we’ve made an impact, as stated by Theodicus in the quote above. That also comforts me, not the words of the minister at the funeral service about a heaven that may or may not exist, but the idea that after I’m gone others will be doing the same thing I’m doing now, questioning possibility and embracing the journey.
And these gray hairs, they’re proof that I’m still alive, so I embrace them too.