Death does strange things to people, especially when the deceased is a loved one. It prompts recollection of times gone by, things said and unsaid, done and not done. The good, the bad, the fragrant and even the nauseating. Such things arrive and they are not easy to brush away.
The ‘left behind’ find themselves wondering if they gave enough, loved enough and if they could have been more present than they actually were. But it’s too late. What’s done is done. The balance sheets are cast in stone, so to speak.
And then, at least for a while, the ‘left behind’ consciously recalibrate relationships with those who are still around until life and habit put people back ‘on track,’ pathways which when encountering another death yield the same questions.
‘I am so glad I made the time to visit her.’
Such things we hear at funerals.
‘I was planning to call him, damn!’
We hear such things too.
We don’t know what passes through the minds of those close to death. Perhaps they too have regrets and perhaps this is why people make bucket lists. But then again not even the most meticulous list-maker captures all. Bucket lists are of grand dimensions. The things that stab deepest and causes greatest pain are the little things, the doable but easily postponed and never done.
The everyday inscribes routine on one and all. We move from hour to hour, place to place, one engagement to another as though playing a script. We are caged by have-to-do things. Time is long, though, contrary to popular conviction. There’s 24 hours in a day and if we sat down and wrote in detail what we did in the 24 hours that ended ‘just now’ we would all probably find that we’ve blown away chunks of minutes or even hours.
Maybe we should consider making a different kind of list today. A list made of names. People who we need to forgive and whose forgiveness would give us relief. People who touched us whose names we might find hard to remember but whose addresses we can still find if we take the trouble to search. A teacher, an acquaintance, a friend, the parents of friends who treated us as though we were their own children, a gardener, a shopkeeper or waiter who served us with a smile, someone who we never met but whose life, words and work inspired, the arrogant and unsavory boss, the uncouth clerk, the man who collected garbage and he who delivered the newspaper or letters.
There could be girl or boy who touched or tore apart our hearts, now a young woman or man or middle-aged, married or not, oblivious to what she or he did. Certain things cannot be re-played but then again time plays all kinds of tricks. In the very least, it can’t be too difficult to say hello. It can’t be too difficult to smile.
In that list, at some point, there will be the estranged. People who loved and were loved. A friend, a teacher, a student, a sibling, a nephew or niece, an aunt or uncle. And then the nearest and dearest, loved and loving but never really saying the words or showing the sentiment. Love notes to such people are the hardest to write and the easiest to postpone, but the right time…it’s right now, isn’t it?
It’s the time for love. Right now. The moment may never arrive again.
This article was first published in the DAILY NEWS [January 31, 2020]