When I think about dying, I’m always pulled back to that time when I was in a hospital waiting for my Uncle’s dialysis session to finish.
I was seated on a cold, battered hospital bench. And as it was a public hospital, I remember the lights are so much dimmer than it should be. Huddled around me were exhausted people, waiting on their relatives to get better. We only got the humid air going around, so many of them were holding fans or anything that may resemble it. Some of them laid slumped on the floor, trying to get a bit of sleep.
I remembered being so tired that day. Going around from the laboratories to seeking additional financial help from the hospital’s social welfare section. All I really wanted to do that moment was go home, wash all the dirt away and sleep like the dead.
And just as that thought popped, I saw this gurney pushed by two people. When they pass, I saw that on the gurney was a tiny body fully covered with white cloth. They’re going to the elevators. Straight to the hospital’s morgue.
Up until that time, I was convinced that I’m not afraid of dying. Death, after all is natural. As all people are born, all of them must die. But at that moment, I felt anger. And shame. Then guilt. And finally, I became afraid.
Dying made me feel anger
I was angry because it’s not fair.
That was a child. A dead child that cannot be older than ten years old. I looked back from when I was ten and that’s when I started to appreciate a lot of things – family, friends, school, teacher, even learning because finally, division’s making sense.
I was also ten when I realized that going over the school’s fence to cut class just so you can watch a betamax movie in your classmate’s house was pretty awesome. What I marked as an exciting start of my life was an end to that child on the gurney. It was so unfair.
I felt like a good farmer put a sapling in well-lit place. Watered it good. And waited for the perfect moment when the leaves are fresh and tender just so he can smash it with his foot. That’s how senseless it is. Or like how I wasn’t able to get that division is multiple subtraction, just like what my Maths teacher said when I was ten.
If this world is what Darwin made it up to be, are the whiners the stronger ones? Because most people get to do that while others are dying. It’s unfair how people complain about living while others didn’t even have the chance to live. Or kept fighting for it but didn’t win, didn’t survive.
Dying made me feel ashamed and guilty
Shame swiftly came after. How dare I complain that I’m still able to do all these? What am I doing wasting this life for something so trivial as whining. I can always get some rest and then have a go on the next thing that I’d like to do because I’m alive. But that kid right there on the gurney? Not anymore.
I can’t help but think, did the kid knows he’s about to die? Was he able to do all that he can do with the time he’s left with? It also made me ask myself, “Am I doing anything worthy with my life?” Because I know I’m guilty of wasting so much time.
In that moment, in that place, people are fighting to live. They’re undergoing daunting treatments. They’re taking their chance at life. And there I was, a pathetic, ingrateful vermin, wanting to sleep off my mine.
Dying made me fear mortality and embrace life
And then I feared mortality. I know everything will end, but how? When? I was seized by this strong yearning to live. To get on whatever I was putting off. I thought about all the things that I’d like to do, all the places I’d like to see, all the people that I long to meet… All these things that life can still offer and that I can still grab on to – I want to reach out to them, I want to live my life in full.
In my mind, I thought, I know how valuable life is. But it’s only then have I learned how to cherish it. That instance when the gurney passed shocked me, scarred me for the rest of my life. But it humbled me as well. It’s a valuable lesson that I learned that night. And maybe by writing this, I just want to pass it on.
As always thanks for dropping by!
Featured Image by Aron
Inset Photo by Gabby Orcutt