I was talking with a close friend not long ago, and her significant other passed away just a few months ago. It led me to recalling a great friend from my childhood—a boy who died far too soon. Through our conversation I was able to finally solidify to myself what I feel about death. Here are those thoughts.
This all started when she asked whether I think someone can “come to you” after their death. Yes and no. I think things can happen, and it’s up to us to determine what they mean. Do I think someone can send signs from beyond the grave? No, butI think the deceased are always alive in our hearts, minds and souls. So our conscious mind still weaves them into our daily lives. I think we should embrace these moments. It’s our way of keeping the deceased in our lives.
Many times, depending on how close those who have died are to us, we’ll “know what they would say” in certain situations. Knowing what they might say just shows how close they still are to us and how much they still mean. Quite frankly, When it comes to dreams, that’s a much deeper answer. Again, I think the same thing in that they can’t consciously send things, but our subconscious can easily create a story or a message from their previous presence in our lives. Even when she was here you knew what she would say, it’s just more meaningful and more special to you now than it was then.
Some people may think that they’re seeing or feeling something that isn’t really there. I would disagree with that. You’re looking at what is there. Just because they’ve died doesn’t mean they aren’t still there. They’ll always be there as long as we remember them. Although they can no longer hold our hands or hug us—they’ll always talk to us. They’ll always be there. The important people in our lives impact us more than we consciously understand. It’s hard to comprehend that until they’re not here any more. Once someone dies, we find ourselves thinking “what would Austin say?” It’s in that question that lies the truth—they are still with us; they still mold us. That’s the kind of impact the important people in our lives have. The love—platonic or romantic—does not end. It might transform. It might change, but it will never die. I believe that’s the power of being human; our brain doesn’t let someone every truly leave.
Watching someone close to you die—particularly if it’s at the hands of a slow, merciless disease—is the most painful thing in the world. You see someone you love in pain, hurting, but there’s nothing you can really do. It feels like a knife being slowly—so slowly it takes months to move an inch—inserted into your own body; the pain starts in your stomach—your gut. You know what’s going to happen, and you know it’s inevitable, and you know there’s nothing you can really do to stop it. That pain never leaves, but as they decline so do you. The knife really starts moving from your gut up to your heart, and it affects everything about you. A little bit of you dies with them.
But, once the knife is removed, which only comes with death, we begin to heal. We won’t ever heal completely, and the pain of the knife’s removal will last a lifetime. There will always be a scar, and that scar will always be part of who we are. Our scar, however, is only metaphorical. It’s one that cannot be easily seen with a naked eye, but it’s there. It’s a wound that has no treatment and no cure.
The most important part about this metaphorical wound is that we know they will survive within us. They become part of who we are, and thanks to that they’ll never be truly gone. Austin is always here with me. I might not think about him every second of every day any more, but he’s always there. Do you know why? Because Austin is the knife. And for all the pain that knife caused me, I wouldn’t trade it for an instant. That pain, that wound, that scar molded me into a better person—a person who can now help others through this difficult journey. That’s how much Austin means to you. That’s how much he’ll always mean to me.
Death is merely the means to new life. Look at where Austin is now. He’s in my thoughts, in my actions. He lives in me.