Last month was Mes de Los Muertes. And, while I happened to be off doing a lot of other things, I respect the tradition which causes us to honor and commune with our dead. On December first, our mutual great-grandmother died and I met you for the first time, even though I have known your mother all of her life. And the death of her mother was a cementing force in our relationship. Your grandmother, Linda, who died before you were born and has been spoken of in revered tones for all of your life, was like my big sister. You never knew her. You only knew that a great many people loved her when she lived.
You are ten and you have, to my knowledge, never known death in your life. I am forty- five, and I am rapidly becoming intimately acquainted with it. I just wanted to talk with you for awhile and tell you my take. The reason I want to do this is because, you just lost your great-grandmother, your other great-grandmother is in bad condition, and your grandfather will be leaving us soon. That's a lot to take when your world was one way on one day, and was an entirely different way the next day.
When I was seven, my favorite grandmother died of cancer, like Linda, your grandmother you never knew. Everybody was always very quiet about it, and, while I knew she was sick, they tried to protect me, and didn't tell me anything. So, when she went, it was a great shock. I had loved her. I didn't know that people could just cease to be.
I remember waking up at night, imagining the casket lid closing on her, and being deathly afraid. No one could comfort me. No one had any words of wisdom to give me, or any spiritual advice that could carry me through. I don't want that to happen to you. I've learned a thing or two while living on this planet, and I thought I'd at least offer what I've learned to you, so you have food for thought as you go on your own journey through life and death.
People live, love, experience, and then they die. These are the facts. No one really knows what happens after that. They all have their beliefs and opinions, but no one living knows what happens after death. They leave behind a legacy. People they have loved and influenced, things they have done, a feeling in the heart when you think about them.
Lots of people believe that God gathers them up into His loving hands and takes them to heaven to be with all the people they have loved throughout their life who have gone before them. I like that idea, and I have a certain amount of reason to make me believe that this is what really happens. Other people believe that you go to some between worlds place where you suddenly know your whole life's plan, and you plan your next life so you can learn the lessons you didn't learn this time around. This also appeals to me. Go to heaven or get another try to get it right, and love more people, and live more life.
Then there are other people who believe that the life you live is the life you live. When it's over, it's over. That's a little scarier. You're part of a bigger picture of nature and science No warm fuzzies of God or your loved ones. Oblivion. I think it's one of the main reasons people believe in religion. Because the alternative is too scary. Not being is just not something a sentient being can imagine. It seems wrong.
But lately, I've begun to realize through the help of people who think this might really be how it happens, that it isn't so bad. Because you won't know. Right now you wonder what you will think, and how you will react to not being. Except that you won't. You'll integrate yourself into the grand and very beautiful cycle of life that already is. Your parts will go back to feed the earth. Your energy and personality will go on to feed the next generations, just as your Grandmother's personality has affected all of us. You are not gone or forgotten. You have moved on to other dimensions. And you won't care. You will be part of the cycle of life, no matter what. You were, you impacted, you went on, as millions have done before you.
So, much as I miss those who precede me into death, I don't worry about them. No matter who is right about what really happens, or what I believe, it's going to be ok. I will miss them, but I will always have the memory of that person, and what that person meant in my life. So hang in there, live your life, and love the people you love, past and present. It's all you can do, and it's all that is expected of you.