Death's fascination

Dear Diary,

So again today after a somewhat long spell, a patient died during my shift; it is unusual for patients to die in a private practice since doctors are quick to refer bad patients to centres where they have better chances of survival unlike tertiary centres that have nowhere to refer bad patients to. So did I cry? Lolzz…dear diary, you know I didn’t. If tears ever solved a problem, I would have sobbed the Atlantic Ocean considering the issues I have at hand but you know the way it is…

Remember my newfound fascination with death? In fact I started writing a book on death before exams came knocking and I had to pause writing my book. Yes, death fascinates me… a lot but you know today when I heard that relative burst into tears, I had to ask myself, “why the tears?” Here I am envying the dead, you are mourning her passing. And again I ask, why?

You know I have never really understood why folks mourn the dead. I mean, they are out of this mundane, fraught-with-complexities, fractured world; I mean, are we sad because they are dead or because they died quicker than expected or because we will miss them? I for one am as one acquainted with grief and while I am surrounded by folks I love and want to spend the rest of my life with, I have to be honest enough to say that most of the time, that unwilling-to-let-go, obsessive hold on life is borne out a selfish need- my selfish need to use them fill a role in my life.

When you ask most people, “why are you mourning Jack’s death?” they answer and say stuffs like, “you know, Jack died so young, he is not even married yet” and so on and so forth. I agree that death is a pernicious foe and when it comes into a family, it leaves them shocked and numb and takes away an irreplaceable fellow; but again you see, essentially it is not about the guy who died but the ones left behind bereaved because he has left them.

But for a minute let us consider possible reasons why we may feel sorry for the departed. If the dead died young, there is this feeling of an incompletely lived life where we may believe that more could have been achieved before death came calling. For me, there is no right or wrong reason for mourning the dead; grief is not necessarily a rational thing, it is emotional, it does not have to be logical, at best we appreciate it if it is real.

If really, we cry because lives are cut short in their prime before anything worthwhile has been done, I become concerned because a lot of us will not do great things with our lives. Not every doctor will discover life-saving techniques or medications and not every couple will honeymoon in the Swiss Alps; not every preacher will be a Spurgeon and not every writer will be a Shakespeare. Most of us will be normal people who live normal lives, go to normal jobs every normal day, raise normal kids who go to normal schools and are taught by normal teachers and score normal grades.

There is an illusion at large- the illusion to always want more and that satisfaction is in more; it is like the bumper sticker that read, “he who dies with the most toys win” really? So everyone is in a rat race to accumulate more, we have forgotten that satisfaction is not necessarily in the big things, no. satisfaction is simply finding little ways to rejoice and enjoy what you have. Satisfaction is in savouring the taste of hot coffee shared with a lover on a cold rainy morning and drinking in the beauty of a rose field in full bloom. It is holding your two-year old daughter close to your heart as she draws patterns on your stubby chin.

I mean, what do you do if you wanna be happy for a month? Fall in love. After a month is passed you need a new source of emotional high, so what do you do? Get a great job and after you are through working so hard for your salary, you just know there has to be more so again, what do you do? Go on an exotic vacation maybe to the Bahamas or try some mountain climbing in the Himalayas. Eventually, you find out that after every great emotional high, you are left dry and wanting more.

True satisfaction really is not in doing great things, it is an everyday affair where we become fully involved in the normal things we do and derive satisfaction in those mundane everyday normal affairs. You know there is really nothing extraordinary about enjoying a plate of moi moi with the wrapping leaves slightly burnt but Lord in heaven! Is it satisfying!

The story of the talents prove that more is not necessarily better, faithfulness is getting the most out of what you have been given- doing the best you can. Jesus said quite simply to the rich young ruler, “quit this breakneck rat race of accumulating possessions and scheming and planning to have a reward in heaven, instead follow me”. To follow Jesus is to do all things unto His glory- all things including normal things like drinking and eating. And the Glory of God like Charles Ryrie said is anything that makes God seen.

So it is why I envy the dead in Christ, they are sleeping, they are out of this mindless grabbing for things and positions and possessions and struggling for love and acceptance, etc. especially for those who knew that a life well spent is not necessarily a flamboyant one, but one that was lived as an everyday testimony to the goodness of God. A life that chose to enjoy the everyday simplicities of life- in the words of John Piper, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

So I envy the dead in Christ because to depart and to be with Christ is to live every second enjoying his person and brother, that is far better than writing prescriptions and operating inflamed appendices and writing referrals to tertiary centres. So while I wait to join the saints triumphant, I am learning to from time to time, step back and realize how much I am blessed and deliberately enjoy the little things and the normal ordinary events of life.