Moving along in this life, sometimes can be painful. I just heard two bad news: one of my uncles just passed away and the other was given two days to live. They are both distant family members, but the realization that death can happen any moment is frightening. I hurried and went to visit the one who is still alive; lung cancer which has spread to his head, causing a stroke. He was conscious and alert, but physically weak. I never had a close relationship with him. I never did with any of my uncles. I haven’t even had a close relationship with my own father. I happened to call my father on my way to visiting my uncle just to check on him. Papi (which is how I call my Dad) sounded content and healthy. He had a mini heart attack about two months ago, which was also startling. He has been better since then. But having an ocean between where he lives and where I live makes the pain even bigger.
When I arrived at the hospital where my uncle is, I had a casual conversation with him. I started to contemplate on this life. Why do we have to go through so much pain? I reflect like this often, but especially during the time that a loved one is about to leave us. What is going on through my uncle’s head? What would he be thinking? We talked about the weather, the news, movies, the past, etc. He seems ok. But to think that maybe in one or two days he will be permanently gone puzzles me. It is not the same hearing about other people dying, and meeting your uncle probably two days before he dies.
Maybe this experience is to help me get prepared for more losses in my life, .i.e. Papi. Maybe I need to see my uncle in this condition so that I can be more accustomed to death. Because, whether we like it or not, death is inevitable. We have to accept it, either as a transition to another life, liberation from physical pain, unity with the unknown, or termination of existence. We don’t like to talk about it. We all do so many things in life to distract ourselves from this cold reality. We occupy ourselves with selfish agendas, pretending to be immortal beings. We like to live an illusion of eternal life. This is probably why we create religions that promise eternal salvation after this limited life. But at the same time, the evidence of something greater than ourselves is clear, I think.
We are simply sleeping. We are unconscious. We are unaware of what is actually out there, waiting for us. But because we are not conscious of it yet, because we have no certainty of what awaits us on the other side, we prefer to pretend it is not going to happen. But it will. We are sleeping beings who one day, I believe, will be awakened to what is really there. We think we are awake now, and will sleep eternally upon death. But I think it is the other way around. We are sleeping, and will be awakened…. when the time comes.
So I said a brief prayer before I left the hospital. My uncle then said “I will probably last another 30 years…!” I smiled and said “Amen to that!” What else could I say? I will probably not see him again, on this side of existence. Maybe the next time I see him will be when it is time for me to wake up, and meet my two uncles, and anyone else who have awakened by then. Maybe when I am awake, I will be able to see the reality of the unknown. But until then, all I can do is wait and believe.