In the past two weeks, I have witnessed both the death of someone I have known my entire life and the birth of someone I will know for the remainder of my life. One occasion brings extreme sadness and moments of despair and one brings extreme joy and moments of wonder; yet I am struck by the similarities of these two starkly contrasting events.
The first parallel that I notice, and the one that made me detect the others, is that both of these instances make people involuntarily speak in hushed tones when entering a room. There is a loud silence that accompanies both the end and the beginning of a life – in one instance, an empty silence and in one a very full one. There are no signs hung that say “please be quiet”, yet there is a holiness there that makes us do it anyway.
People drop all of their plans, calendar pages stop turning, and loved ones travel for hours and hours in order to be together. It doesn’t matter what plans we had – we will drop them and celebrate this life.
My mind is filled with thoughts and pictures of those closest to the celebrity – the bereaved spouse, the new parents. I feel intense amounts of emotion, of grief, of joy, of worry, of astonishment. I wonder to myself, “What will their life be like now?” I am sleepless with wondering.
In both cases, the leading lady is amazingly unaware of the commotion she has just caused. She might experience a similar disruption at certain times in her life, when another dies or another is born. And in that way she can understand a little better about her own death or birth. But she is not really there to witness it for herself.
A great number of hugs, photographs, and casseroles are shared. And an even greater number of prayers.
I am amazed every time I think about the humanness of it all. The life-ness. We have all faced birth – in a variety of ways, of places, of hands. And we will all face death. There is mystery involved. And hope and curiosity and fragility.
If you think about it too hard, your eyesight will start to change, and it feels like you’re floating just outside of your head. I have no conclusions to be drawn here. Simply commentary.