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Faint glow of the candle

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Death… is there anything more painful.

I’m sitting here, at this committee for the burial preparations of a friend to a friend of mine. It’s the final day of this committee meeting, the last round of funds raising is being done. All round me is the clatter of sounds- the hype by the MC, the laughter at the ridiculous fines guests are suffering, the random banter of women catching up.

I’m just quietly listening to it all, yet not really listening. My mind seems to be away in a distant land. Away from all the noise and the chatter, to the depths of darkness wrapped around one poor soul.

See, this man that we’re burying tomorrow, he is/was a married man. He is/was a father. His daughter is only 3 years old. He was literally just starting out a new phase of his life. His little girl was only just starting to go to school. She was only just starting to nurture a relationship with her daddy. Now she has to live with the fact that she won’t get to see the first man in her life ever again.

My heart is buried deep in the woman who knew this man as hers. She who regarded him as her other half. I see her getting into bed at night, feeling the cold sheets and tugging her blanket tight. Hardly daring to turn to the right, for how can she bear the empty space beside her. I see her going through all the motions- denial, anger, despair. I feel her emptiness and desperation. I feel all the questions within her- how will she survive tomorrow..? How will she hack this life alone?? How will she fill the role left by this man in her baby girl’s life??

As all these things go through me, my mind wanders to my future as it so often likes to do. I see myself in this woman. I wonder if I could survive it.

Death is cruel. Only, not to the one whose soul leaves this place, but to those that are left behind. The ones who have to deal with the knowledge that they won’t see their loved one again. Those who have to put on a brave face each day even when they’re breaking over and over inside. Those who have to pick up the pieces and live on- for this is what life demands.

I think about my husband. And how I will love him deeply and unconditionally. I think about the beautiful babies we will make. I find that I want this gift not for me, but for us. I think of how I will need him each day. How his son will need a role model. How his daughter will need a protector. I think about how at this moment, I don’t believe that my family would be complete without him. Then I ask myself, what if life forced me to have to be without him? This poor woman didn’t choose this. No one does. What if it were me… would I have the grace and the strength to keep going? Would my children be whole without their father?

Then I think of all the people out there who’ve had to live this. All the widows living only with memories. All the widowers who have to be both dad and mum. All the kids who have known the pain of loss while too young.

Death is cruel. Death is inevitable. And no matter how much we wish breath was in our power, it just isn’t. No amount of worry and fear could change that. As I sit here watching the faint glow of the candle flickering over his picture frame, I’m forced to understand that these aren’t things I can help. I am forced to understand that the only moment that counts is here and now. And even when this phase comes, only the present that I get to spend with my family will matter. And that, that will be enough. It has to be.

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