Saturday, February 19, 2011

What do I know?

What if I had done things differently?

What if I had had a real dad?

What if I had stayed in Brazil?

What if I had said something else to him?

What if I had known what to say?

What if things, all things, had been different? The fact of the matter is things are what they are. I did what I did, my father was never my dad, I moved away to America, I never said any more than what I had to, I never knew what else to say to a man who was supposed to be so important to me, but was never really part of my life.

What-ifs? What-ifs are not life. Life is what-is. And life goes on, always moving forward, never stopping for anyone to take a break as they please, or need. As the song Aquarela says, “without asking for permissions, it changes our lives and then invites us to laugh or to cry.”

So, as it must happen to all who live, death came to the man who was my father. And, as much as there was never a real father-daughter relationship between us, I was left behind to pick up the pieces of that which could have been and to cry the loss of that which I never really had.

It's hard to describe the feelings right now. Ever since I heard the news it's been hard to describe anything.

I feel sad. Sadness is probably the easiest feeling to describe. Because it's so general. I find myself crying often and I try to figure out why.

Why do I feel sad and do I cry for the loss of what I never really had?

I feel sad and I cry because I, as a human being, I treasure memories and relationships, as few the memories and as wrong relationships as they might be.

I feel sad and I cry because I just lost my father. A father with whom I shared memories and had a relationship, as few the memories and as wrong the relationship have been.

I feel sad and I cry because I am dealing, in a very close way, with Death.

Death. Why is Death the only thing certain in life, and yet we, human beings, have such a hard time dealing with it? As a human being, I don't deal well with loss. We always wish there was more time. Time to fix the things that were not fixed. Time to enjoy the things that were not enjoyed. Time to say things that were not said. We always know, or think we know, that something else could have been done. Isn't that true? We wish things were ideal, even though everything about our world is not ideal.

Death. Why does it bother us to be faced with it? Because, as a human being, when I am faced with death I must acknowledge the fact that it comes to all of us, and it will come to me. When faced with death we must acknowledge our own finitude. We realize we are finite beings. And, while through life, we bury many who ceased to live as we go on, there will come a day, very soon, when others will be burying us, and they will go on. On to meet their own end some day, in a future that we won't be there to see. And Life goes on. And Death comes to all who live.

I suddenly realize that life is so short! Here today, gone tomorrow. Those of us who are lucky will live past 70 or 80. Those of us who are really lucky will live past 90. And a very selected few will get to see a century of life. But really? What are 100 years to live? Nothing!!!

There's so much to do and so little time. There's so much that goes undone. Saved for later. My father died without ever seeing the money his old job owed him for a good 20 years! Money I hope we get someday, it's true, but that does not change the fact that he died waiting for it. To him it does not matter anymore. A lot of people treat the dead as if they knew things. They are happy for us, where ever they are. They are vindicated, they are this or that! The dead don't know anything! Isn't that what the Bible says? That money, my father will never see it! It might come to us, his children. It might even be a good thing for us, when and if it comes. But my father died on hold. Never to know what will be done of it …

So why else does facing death bother us so much? Because of what is left undone, unreceived, untold. I guess we don't fear death as much as we fear the un-lived life. A life lived forever waiting for the right time, a right time that never comes. A life lived on hold.

There are a few Brazilian sayings about not living life: "We only regret the things we don't do", "We have plenty time to sleep when we're dead", "Those who sleep much, live little". I can't help, when thinking about these things, but asking: What am I waiting for? Why do I wait to say things, to do things, to show love to others? Why do I wait to do what I must? Why do I wait to have fun, to go to that special place, to eat that special food? Why do I put my life on hold, when I don't know for how much longer I have this life? Why do we all?

Death is always going to be sad. It would be better if it never came, I think. Seriously, who likes to say good-bye? I know I don't. And I do it a lot. It is never, ever fun. However, if we realized that saying good-bye to life is inevitable, wouldn't we live a fuller life? I don't know.

I don't fancy to know the final answer to any of these things I mentioned here. I'm just a girl facing death in a very real way and trying to make sense of it. Trying to deal with feelings I don't fully understand. And all I know is I don't know how much time I have, or how much time anyone I love has. All I know is I want to make the best of the time we have left. That's all I know. Will this knowledge be enough when death crosses my path again? I can't even say I know that much.

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