LESSONS IN LIFE, AND IN DEATH
I don’t know if it was Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech that I watched on Monday, or the sudden death of Dolores from the Cranberries (band), or the passing of my great Aunt at the glorious age of 97, but my breath was lost this week on the lessons in life, and in death.
Death is sad. Sometimes I’m afraid of it if I’m totally being honest. But mostly, it’s eye opening. And heart opening. Remember when I mentioned my heart being opened by the best cardiothoracic surgeon on the planet? That’s what happens in the beauty of life, and the sadness in death. Or so I've learned.
I listened to the “I have a Dream” speech again on Monday after seeing someone post about it. I've seen it before. I've spoken in my English class in high school. But this time, it was different. And I was intensely moved. Chills ran up my spine at the tenacity in his voice, the fervor in his conviction and the hope in his eyes. He had a dream. And he's gone now. And yet, now we all have a dream. To live better. To choose kinder. To love harder, because of him. That’s not just a valuable life lesson.
The sudden death of Dolores O’Riordan left the majority of everyone in music shocked. Everyone that is a fan of the band The Cranberries. I’m a fan. In fact, The Cranberries accompanied me throughout my entire 4 years at UCLA and then some. And on Monday I turned on the Cranberries and listened to song after song after song, mesmerized once again by her voice. It all came back to me, so distinct and vivid. Beautiful. No one else sang like Dolores. Her Irish accent snuck through most all of her lyrics and haunted me for a few relationships in the late 90’s. And it got me reminiscing. Remembering facts. Conversations. Kisses. Love in all the wrong places. Confusion. Experiments. My youth. Only to prove how powerful music is. How powerful one’s talent is to the point of a 2 minute song bringing you right back to 19, your dorm room and a blond headed guy who was one of nicest persons I had ever met.
Which brings me to my great Aunt. Aunty Jo. 97 years young. Raised six kids by day, and worked as a nurse at night. She buried her teenage son after he died in Vietnam. Followed by two of her daughters suddenly passing in the last two decades. Yet her beautiful Hawaiian Filipino spirit never waned. Her smile ignited the room, and her warmth kept the family tight. Never in my time around her did I ever feel that love was missing. Never did I feel anything wasn’t possible. Never did I hear of real negativity from the presence of Aunty Jo. That’s Legacy.
I’ve experienced many deaths in my life. Many when I was younger. I have a big family. And with that comes death. And with death comes life lessons. And with life lessons comes wisdom.
Today I’m reminded that although death is scattered with great sadness and confusion and questions, as an adult, I’m much more aware of the legacy within it.
And the acute awareness of the truth behind who these people were and how they made me feel. Period.
Martin Luther King Jr. made me believe. Made me proud to believe. And still today, makes me full of hope.
Dolores of the Cranberries made me reminisce. Made me go back in time and smile at the thought of my glorious experience in my 20’s. And how awesome it truly was.
Aunty Jo made me bask in the beauty of family legacy. And how her 97 years on earth, genuinely made me forever believe in the honorably value of love and loyalty for family.
Death isn’t my favorite. Because I don’t like to be sad. But if I’m honest, I seek joy from these lessons in death. And it shows up, because that’s what happens when people impact your life and leave this earth. And that, whether we like it or not, is the gift of the lessons, not only in life, but also, in death.