It says something profound about what we were meant to be that death, what it is and what it does, seems so outrageous, so unnatural, this destruction of our bodies, this severing of all ties with loved ones, this removal from the stage of the living. We recoil from death, we shrink from dying. And rightly so. Those who argue that death is just a natural part of life must not be acquainted with death. Death takes a human life, something that was created good and made in the image of the Holy Trinity, death destroys that life. Death takes a person, capable of love, capable of good, capable of astonishing acts of fantastic cooking (!), death reduces that person to nothing. Death erases, so that she who once was so alive and so present and so here, she is now no more. The voice that called or laughed or sung is silenced. The hand that helped or touched or caressed moves no more. The eyes that looked in wonder or wept tears of sadness or crinkled in a smile are closed never to open again. Death has taken my mom. Her voice I’ll never hear again. Her hand I’ll never hold. Her eyes I’ll never look into and wonder what she’s thinking.
No monuments. No highways named after her. No books or scholarly papers to achieve immortality in libraries and online databases. No companies that bear her name.
The only thing my mom appears to have left behind are a few lives, lives whose hearts have been touched, lives whose character has been influenced, lives who shared a laugh or enjoyed a meal or experienced something good. But given the fact that monuments will crumble, and accumulated treasure will waste away, given that nothing most people pour themselves into will last or be remembered, it could be that touching a few lives may turn out to be by far the most important thing.
Thanks, mom. Memory eternal.
Joseph Black, writing in a blog post on the death of his mother on the 16th March, 2011