It’s where one finds the darkest hour, as the song goes. In my life, I must have had many unpleasant experiences at witnessing countless dazed looks from those who’ve lost their loved ones, especially at the very last moment of goodbyes at the graveyard. For the longest time, these dark moments numbed into submission by grief are set so firmly, they seem to settle down like a thick blanket. This is precisely the reason why during the final moments when an old colleague was finally laid to the ground last Sunday, I decided not to be present. In the hope know she would understand.
It has not been too long when we bid our last goodbyes to the dear wife of our closest relative and before that, the mother of a childhood friend. In the last year, I’ve attended three funerals and the amount of grief I’ve witnessed and felt during these times only accentuates the reality that in spite of all we have accomplished, we are still mere mortal beings. We can only guess what is beyond that. often I wonder, how cruel it is that we’ve to endure it time and again, as if were a forgetful race. If only life were here in the flesh, I would say I can take a hint, thank you.
Incidentally, today also happens to be the birthdays of our two departed, my youngest brother and our youngest niece’s husband. Even as the same dazed looks on both their immediate families and their children during their untimely demise have been etched in memory; I was again reminded of them as I witnessed the same unbelieving looks during the final rites for our dear relative last month. That same mask of death manifested itself in the faces of my fallen colleague’s love ones. I still cannot get used to it.
However, in this template of grief which surely dwells in each of our darkest hours, I can only lean on one belief which at most, may sound Buddhist. Suffering is part of existence and acceptance of one cannot be without the other. How can I forget one conversation with my late mother who had cancer. She had said pain (like our grief), no matter how great, is bearable. She had likened it to sharing Christ’s ordeal.
I’m thinking, I can still reach out to the family of my colleague but not today, their darkest hour. Not merely to condole but likewise to offer what Stephen Colbert had once said. “It’s a gift to exist, and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping it.” The darkest hours shall eventually pass and as always, there’ll be a new dawn on the horizon.
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