Friday, February 15, 2013

The Only Thing I Know for Sure…

Every living thing that is born - dies. It’s the only fact of life that is irrefutable. I don’t want to be morbid, but it’s a fact.

I’ve been reading a lot of J. D. Robb (Nora Roberts’ pseudonym), “In Death…” series books. If you like stories with strong women characters, murder/mystery/suspense, can deal with tough storylines (the main character is a Homicide Detective with an abusive past), and a little romance thrown into a futuristic setting (2057), then you will really enjoy these books!
The one that I am currently reading is called, Survivor in Death.

Last night when I was reading, the characters were explaining death to a young girl. The 2 afterlife concepts that they were explaining were “reincarnation” and “heaven.”  Basically, our Soul decides which one it’s going to do. It got me thinking today and I had to write down these thoughts before they left me.
In some religions/spiritual practices, it is believed that we are all reincarnated. Not necessarily as humans again – could be any “living” thing. Sometimes what you come to be is based on the type of life you just led…there’s a little bit of karma thrown in and if you screw up your karma really bad you could come back as a Dung Beetle.

And, if you have learned your lessons from your past lives or have lived a real good and solid life – your reincarnation cycle could end, and you are rewarded and will finally rest in a heavenly afterlife.
I never went to a wake or funeral until I was 18. It was for a good friend’s Mom and I was a MESS! I was uncontrollably sobbing. 

My grandfather died when I was 27 and at the wake, an elderly gentleman walked in with a young girl – about 4 of 5. We figured he was one of the guys my grandfather “hung out” with in Inman Square in Cambridge. He went up to the casket with the little girl and showed her. He said, “There’s John.”  She was probably wondering why she hadn’t seen him in a while. I don’t know what else he said to her and I don’t know how she took it after that, but I think if I had attended a wake earlier in my life then I would have been better prepared (my other Grandfather passed away when I was 5).
In my early 20’s, a cousin passed away (actually, my Dad’s first cousin but closer to my age – he has 72 FIRST cousins, as opposed to my Mom’s FIVE cousins). My Dad gave me this explanation to help me deal better – he said that our body is just a shell, a machine that holds our real essence of who we are and what we stand for - our Soul.

He said when I go up to the casket to look at the deceased’s fingers (usually closed together with a Rosary clasped in them) and notice how they are almost wax-like. That what was left was just the shell – it was now empty and the person’s soul and what we really know about them isn’t present anymore.

If you think about what actually happens to a body after death if it’s buried – it breaks down. The shell eventually disintegrates. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Of course, the people we know and love, we identify them by what they look like, the sound of their voice, the smell of them, and the feel of them – these all tie into the idea of the shell, the physical “being.”
How we know them, how we relate to them, who they are to us, their name, the memories we have of them, how they make us feel – this, to me, is the true essence of a person – their Soul.

We identify them by their physical being more than by their Soul. So that concept is really hard when you are grieving, but in the future, when you think about that person, or see a picture – you definitely relate to them by their physical appearance, but after that fleeting thought – you usually are remembering the person and memories you have of them. There’s a piece of their Soul that has touched you and left an indelible mark on yours.
So in conclusion, everybody dies. That we know is true. The only questions left are when, where, how and from what. Unless it’s from natural causes of old age, the question of why always comes into play as well, but I won’t get into that now.

So when someone suggests that you should live each day like it’s your last – it could be true.
So what are you doing with your life? How are you contributing - to your community, your friends, your family, strangers, and the world in general? What are you grateful for? Are you acknowledging that every day? Are you happy/content/miserable/scared/excited? If not, what can you do about it?

Even if you believe in reincarnation, you probably won’t remember your last life. So how are you going to live – TODAY?