|On the day of Jim Stynes state funeral an edited version of this post was published in the Tele|
Last year Sarah Watt died of Cancer, a month before her, Steve Jobs, weeks before that Gavin Larkin, a few months before that my cousin, and the list goes on like a morbid game of Chinese Whispers that leaves only grief and sadness in its wake.
We are surrounded by death, a day does not go by in which we are not confronted by mortality. Whether it be a car accident, a suicide bomb or an illness, the TV beams it to us daily. Not surprising really, given over 150,000 people die each day. What is surprising though is how we manage to ignore it, mainly because it is not our own and for years and hopefully whole life times we carve a path through life without looking death squarely in the eye. We live as if immortal.
Even when my Mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer I managed to shelve the situation in the “she’ll be right” category of my brain and luckily she was. Today though my delusion is showing cracks and I don’t know whether it is maturity or just that the people threatened and dying now are peers, but my "eternal" existence is being challenged.
Jim, Steve and Sarah had children, so have I, they were happy, so am I, they were in their 40s, so am I, they were needed, so am I. There it is, the unfamiliar face of death taking someone my age, at my stage of life. It is despicable, wrong and absurd. But most of all it is insanely confronting.
It is an understatement to say I am not happy about this happening. The injustice of it is driving me quietly mad. I am sad and angry and desperate at this interruption to such brilliant existences. “It is NOT fair! this is not how it is meant to be” I scream as I try to return death back to its abstract box, miles away from me. But as I spin hopelessly in my new world without infinity, I realise I need a new way to look at this or I would be of no use to anybody.
Then I remembered what I had heard last year. When it became apparent that Steve Jobs was gravely ill, I watched his speech to Stanford graduates. It left me a blubbering mess then and compelled me to write about his life, but his words were like oxygen for those grieving his loss after he died and I so I share them again as we grieve again today for Jim Stynes:
And when Jim Stynes was asked whether he thought what was happening to him was incredibly unjust he responded:
When you understand that, you can get on with your life”.
Unfortunately these inspirational and wise words can’t reduce the intense pain of losing someone we love or the thought of our own self ceasing. But maybe if we accepted that one day our spirit will end with one final synapse firing in our brain. Maybe then and only then would we truly learn how to live, grateful for the things that matter, and looking for ways to find inner happiness and share it with those we love.
When life gets in the way and I forget what really matters I am going to stop and remember the great ones that don’t have the chances I have, to cherish their gorgeous family and friends and to stop sometimes and just be.