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The death of a loved one is like a gale crashing through your window throwing everything in the air, breaking some objects and displacing others, which fall and come to rest elsewhere. Nothing is ever the same. Death shakes you inside out, throws you out of your comfort zone and forces you to see what you had swept under the rug.

Three people who were part of my life left this world in the space of a year or so. The first death was like a Hurricane: its aftermath marked the end of an era in my life and the beginning of a new one. A great love died, an impossible love, one of those that help you understand what love is and leave you wondering what could have been possible. When he died, I felt a gut-wrenching pain and profound sadness, but also the extraordinary strength to break with the life I was living at the time. His death shook me so hard I promised myself I would not continue settling for an unsatisfying marriage. It reminded me of what I was capable of feeling and it awoke me from my lethargy.

After that came a strong Tramontana which took away a great friend and a much-loved teacher. It happened suddenly, without warning, which is indeed how it often happens. He was walking upstairs and his heart stopped, that heart which had loved immensely and had taught me so much. His deep blue eyes closed forever and my soul was shaken again. It was like a slap that suddenly awakes you and roots you into the present. It opens your eyes and makes you aware that your life can end at any moment and so you stop worrying about silly things and open yourself to living life with no reservations, with no fear.

A few months later the wind lashed at me again, once again with no warning and no chance to say good-bye. Death was resolved to do what it came for and took another good friend and teacher. He was ill, but so full of life that he was able to light up anyone with his smile and his eyes. He was a man who knew how to enjoy life, heaven and earth. He was brave. When I learned about his death, I felt great sadness once again and the reflection that came to mind was that we cannot live life half-heartedly, hiding from what we are scared of and trying to keep a low profile because we are afraid of what others might say. What are we so scared of? We very often want to be happy at our own expense and we end up lost, disconnected from our essence. Being born and dying is part of life, but the thing is many of us are asleep until death calls at our door. Everything changes then. That’s what death has – it reminds you you’re alive.

 

This beautiful poem was written on my last friend’s memoriam card:

“She is Gone”
by David Harkins

You can shed tears that she is gone,
Or you can smile because she has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

(Written 1981)

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