Isn’t it funny how the nights seem so much longer than the days when you can’t fall asleep? It seems almost counterproductive to stay awake in my bed for hours on end, and yet I can’t bring myself to do anything in these wee hours of the morning. Thus, I lay here pondering life. As I think about everything from peanut butter to marriage, I’m finding that I can’t help but return to the idea of death over and over.
Recently, one of my college housemates passed away, and a few days ago, I attended her wake. Now I’ve personally never suffered a loss of someone close to me, let alone one of this magnitude, so naturally I’m finding this entire situation rather difficult to grasp. Death is never an easy thing, especially when it comes so prematurely and unexpectedly. As someone who struggles to express even the most basic emotions, I feel like it’s infinitely more frustrating because I can’t even begin to put into words how I feel or what I’m supposed to feel. It baffles me how one day you can be having a casual conversation with someone and the next day you’re standing at the foot of their coffin debating whether or not you can stomach taking a glimpse at their done up corpse.
For me, attending my friend’s wake was the point that her entire death began to settle in; slowly but surely, I registered that I’d never share another laugh with her or I’d never get to hug her again. Even worse than these realizations was the feeling of helplessness that enveloped me as I stood before her corpse. I don’t even know if I believe in a God, but all I could do was pray for her to find the insurmountable joy she had found in life wherever she is now. Surprisingly though, staring at her body didn’t bring me to tears. If anything, I was inexplicably frustrated with the fact that the foundation on her corpse was so poorly matched to her actual skin color. I don’t even know why that’s something that would be of concern because in the grand scheme of things, it’s so unbelievably irrelevant. Maybe that’s my twisted way of avoiding having to actually accept the loss.
Another thing attending her wake made me realize was just how fragile and insignificant life can be. I’m such a cynic and often it’s enough to disgust even myself, but as I sat there watching people trickle past her coffin, I realized that at the end of the day that’s all any of us will really amount to. No matter how powerful or wealthy we are, death renders all of that insignificant. At the end of it all, all we are is a dead body surrounded by flowers and candles in a room full of people who cared about us at some point in time. People cry and grieve and perhaps we won’t be forgotten, but I find the latter hard to believe in a time where fingers can type faster than mouths can move and technology expands more exponentially than our booming population. I know that my thought process is so cynical that it can be deemed incorrect, but at the same time it makes sense. Obviously, it completely negates the idea of any of us having a purpose in life, although who’s to say we do? I guess that’s just another uncertain thing that we’re meant to figure out on our own, but isn’t that what all these sleepless nights are for?