Last Friday I went to the movies with my brother Ray and we saw “Furious 7.” We had seen the previous six movies, including the last two in theaters together, so it was only tradition to watch this one. Only this movie felt different, because you were watching someone act in the film that was no longer with us, that no longer breathed air on this Earth. Since that movie my mind has been racing, as it often does. I’ve been thinking about death.
I used to always be able to say that death had never really interfered with my life, and for years I was absolutely right. The only real close person to me that had passed away was Clayton’s uncle Dave, who I had worked with and I knew on a first name basis. I was sad, mainly for Clayton because they were close, but I was alright. My grandmother passing away changed this outlook for me, and it has largely remained the same since then.
I remember being young (between 5-10) and I would wake up in the morning before everyone else in my house and think about things. Sometimes, for really no reason, I would think about life without my grandma, and I would cry to myself. I never spoke of these moments to anyone, choosing to keep them to myself (like most things). When the news finally came of her passing, my first response, however, was not to cry. I felt like a gallon jug of water that someone had punctured on the bottom, the water slowly running out of the jug until it was empty. I felt extreme sadness, while also feeling nothing. I spoke of this in my previous post so I am not going to detail it here, but death has touched my life now.
I think about it often, is death truly the end for a person? I am not spiritual or religious, so I suppose I don’t believe in Reincarnation or Heaven, but I think about how cool it would be if such a place exists. Everyone tells people that they will “see them again” when they die, but will they? Or do they just say this because it is the norm? I would like to think I will see my grandma again one day, to have another deep conversation with her, but what if our time together ended when she passed away?
To think about death is also to think about life. Science says that during the creating of a person, there are millions of sperm cells, each with its own DNA makeup. I think about how I was the one in the millions. I think about how I’m me and if my parents had any other child, what would they be like? Would they have habits that I don’t? Would they be similar to me, maybe a copy? I guess I obviously have no way of knowing.
I think that a person is afforded, if they are lucky enough to remain healthy for that long, perhaps 70-90 years alive. I think about how I can improve myself physically every day, to prevent the breaking down that will inevitably occur and to prolong my life as long as possible. I joke that I’ll never die, and who knows, maybe I won’t. I’m 26 going on forever, maybe. I think about life without me, how others will conduct themselves if I’m no longer around. I think about all of the random people I have ever helped in life, whom I have only encountered once, and never again. The man who had run out of gas down the street from the gas station who I pulled over for and helped push his car into the station. The girl at Oswego whose ID card I found on the campus grounds and sought out to return it to. The people whose lives may have been saved with the blood that I donated. None of them will know when I pass away, and don’t even know my identity. Will I see them “down the road” and be able to discuss with them how our lives crossed paths, if only for a moment?
I have a tattoo on my forearm, designed by my best friend Jim, that depicts an hourglass. In the bottom section of the hourglass, the space is roughly 3/4 full with sand. The sand is pouring through the middle and the top section is about 7/8 full. Every tattoo I have has a deep meaning, I don’t believe in random tattooing and I don’t believe in displaying something on my body or in my life that holds no meaning. This hourglass says “There’s always time.” It may be translated in any way you see fit. I like to think it relates to everything in life. No matter how hard life gets, or how many times you’ve fallen, or hurt someone, or been hurt, there’s always time to improve your circumstances or make progress for the positive. In terms of this piece, there’s always time as long as you live, I suppose. Since I have no idea of knowing what happens after you take your last breath, I don’t know if there is time to do anything when you’re gone. But as long as you’re “here” on Earth, moves can be made.
Whether you’re given 90 years or 15, a long prosperous life or a short, difficult one, I believe you make it yours. I was in church once and the pastor said that your time on Earth was a pit stop, asking the audience, “What matters more, your 90 years on this Earth, or eternity with God?” I was offended, because what kind of question is that? To me, if you believe in religion, that’s perfectly alright, but I don’t. I try not to take anything for granted, because I want to make my “90” years worthwhile. I want to have lived a life that impacted at least one other life. If someone can look back on my life and say “Rob influenced somebody, he made an impact on their life while he lived” then I will go feeling accomplished.
I believe that there is a way to live forever. You do it through the people you lived with and shared life with. My grandma hasn’t died because I keep her alive through memory and story. So long as I’m alive, and others who hold her dearly, she can never leave. You die when you’re forgotten by everyone.
Paul Walker passing made me think about death, but also about life. His tribute made me see that he isn’t dead, only gone.