Tag Archives: death

Hanging Graves

I should start by saying, I have serious issues.

Recently, I was sitting in my bosses boss’s office having a typical meeting.  I don’t normally let my mind wander while having these conversations but as the conversation was nearing a resolution, my mind began to find other things to notice.

So he’s an avid hiker.  I’m pretty sure he’d rather deal with the woods before dealing with any one of us that report to him, but he gets paid to deal with us, so there he sits.  As an avid hiker, he has pictures of some of the trails he has hiked.  I’ve seen these pictures every day for a few years now.  But, as I sit there on this day, I began to have a very morbid thought.  Likely, due to my brain preoccupied with serious analysis for a few hours and in need of some entertainment.

I began to think about my boss as a serial killer.  He killed along the trails while he hiked.  And the pictures in his office were actually pictures of grave sites.  His way of keeping a trophy of his deeds.  As I thought this, the lights began to go down, and I looked up to find his eyes piercing my soul.  He had noticed my preoccupation with the photos, and knew I was onto him.  As he stared at me, he knew that I would need to be dealt with.  He looked over to an empty spot on the wall, and immediately envisioned a new trophy….another photo of a grave site…and one less employee.

Like I said, I have issues.  My thoughts don’t typically get that weird, especially while at work.  The little man in my head was hard at work that day (I’ll tell you about him some other time).  I may never know the true innocence or horror of those photos, but I’m sure I’ll think about it every time I’m back in that office.  I mean, it’s not impossible, right?

Preparations

To prepare for something, is a good thing.  I get that, but what I don’t like is having to speak with my father about his preparation for when he’s no longer here.  Certainly, there’s no one on earth who is going to be here indefinitely.  We all recognize that there will be a time when our loved ones are no longer here.  For some of us, we have already lost close loved ones, so the thought is also a reality.  Even still, having to deal with it beforehand is not something that is desirable.

I’m mature enough t know that I need to have these talks with my dad.  I need to know where to find the deeds, and what the codes to the safe are, and who the mansions and yachts go to (me, my brother, or my sister).  But just because I know I should know, doesn’t mean I want to know, or more specifically…it doesn’t mean I want to face the reality of a future without my father.

But not only did I not want to have the conversation because of my fears, I didn’t want to have the conversation because of what he must have been thinking.  I mean seriously, how must it feel to have to begin to prepare a world…prepare your loved ones for when you’re gone?  Imagine getting a babysitter, dog sitter, house sitter.  That’s a temporary situation, but think about having to apply that to a situation where you know you’re never coming back.  The thing is, my dad is a smart guy.  He knows how important this stuff is, and he knows he has to prepare us for something that is eventually inevitable and out of his control, so I recognize how important this is.  I don’t know if his preparations mean he’s accepted that it will one day happen, or if he’s just being him (he is an all around prepared kind of individual).

The other thing to note is that we are not talking about a seventy or eighty year old man.  He’s not even in his sixties yet!!!  I guess that’s the other thing that seems so premature to me (“pop, I don’t want to talk about that”).  I guess I just assume he’s got a good twenty or thirty years ahead of him, which I’m sure he does and means he will have to prepare us multiple times as things change in his life.  Ugh!!!  I appreciate his goal, but I do hate the conversation.

Today’s Thought…Random

I wonder if I’m weird.  I think everyone handles death differently.  On the surface, there’s grieving through acceptance with steps in between.  But what does it do to people on a smaller, less noticeable, scale?  Over time, what does the exposure to death over a lifetime do to an individual?

I don’t know…certainly as one gets older, they become more aware of their own mortality.  The reason I wonder if I’m weird is because I think I’m highly sensitive to the presence of death.  I can’t say it’s on the level of someone like Tupac who predicted he would die young.  Nor do I think is stalking me around every corner, but I’m aware of the many different ways that death could get me in its grasp.  For example, every since the young woman died from being crushed by an elevator in NY earlier this year, I’m more aware of how that could’ve been me.  I still get on elevators, without fear might I add, but the dangers do cross my mind.  Recently, an acquaintance of mine was shot to death in front of the Empire State building by a disgruntled former co-worker.  I work in human resources and I unfortunately am occasionally a part of terminations.  Though I’m not the persons manager, my mere involvement makes me wonder if I could be a target.  I still go to work, without fear, but it does sometimes hit me, as I enter or exit the building, that some former disgruntled worker could be waiting for my arrival.

I have other examples of this, but what makes me think I am sane is that it doesn’t alter what I do or change who I am.  I’m just more aware.  I feel like I’m more aware than the average person, but maybe that’s only because I can’t speak for anyone else.  Ah well, who knows…

(flush)

Interview Room B (Late Night Recession Edition)

It’s late…say about 6 o’clock in the evening on a Wednesday.  For whatever the reason, I have a late interview today.  I was accommodating a schedule, or maybe they were accommodating mine.  Regardless, the situation is what it is.  At 6pm sharp, my interview was ready to see me in the interview room.  He had completed his test, and was ready for us to sit down and have a conversation.

As I walked in, I immediately recognized him.  The name hadn’t rung a bell seeing that I run though so many names in day, but I’m usually good with faces.  This guy had applied here a few years ago for a completely different position.  I don’t recall the circumstances, but whatever they were, he was not hired.  As I looked at his resume, I could tell that it had been some time since he had actually held a job.  At some point, I needed to ask him about his activities during that time, but not yet.  We still had to get through the ice breaker, and some of the basic questions I needed to ask.

Finally, it was time to ask about his gap in employment.  What had he been doing, and what did he attribute to not being able to find a job.  As I asked, I thought about how cruel this bad economy had been to some people.  It seemed like an obvious reason, but I wanted to see how he might rationalize this.  He squinted his eyes and rubbed his forehead before letting out a big sigh.

“People like you,” he said in a very matter of fact tone.  Not much surprises me in an interview, but this did catch me off guard.  He repeated his response, more forcefully this time.  At the same time he reached into his bag, pulled out a gun, and fired two bullets into my chest.  He let out one more sigh, put the gun away into his bag.  He grabbed the resume he had so readily given to me before the interview, and placed that into his bag as well.  The gunshots had sent me to the floor and before exiting the room, he lingered over me…just staring.

He then leaned over me, and grabbed a business card out of my pocket.  He then stood up, turned out the light, and exited the room.

My blood poured onto the carpet.  My lifeless body lay there as it began to pool around me…mixing with the dirt and grime that thousands of footsteps had imbedded into it.  The cleaning crew had gone, and so I would not be found until the next morning.  The receptionist who prepares the rooms in the morning, won’t be ready for this.  She’s older, and the sight of my dead body, engulfed in my own pool of blood…eyes shut, and skin starting to fade to a brownish gray…may be just enough to kill her too.

Reflection

A friend of mine is going through a difficult time right now.  He and his wife are dealing with the probable loss of his father.  He’s in a coma and doctors say there’s almost no chance of him recovering, so they have removed him from life support and expect his passing any moment now.

Speaking with them has reminded me (not that it’s ever far from my mind) of two losses I’ve suffered that have impacted me in a major way.  The loss of my grandmother, and the loss of my mother.  Death is never an easy thing to deal with, but we all are faced with it at some point or another.  Sometimes tough choices have to be made, and though our emotions take us on a rollercoaster, we are forced to deal with things in a rational fashion.  When I reflect on my situation, I’m reminded of my grandmother; the last moments I had with her.  I visited her at her home in Brooklyn…a very familiar place to me during my childhood.  We had a chance to sit and talk.  I couldn’t tell you what we spoke about, but it was a long conversation.  I’ll never forget, that when it was time for me to go, she walked me to the door.  A small rather insignificant move to most, but big to me because I didn’t expect it, and it wasn’t something she normally did.  To this day, I’m sure that she, or a higher power, knew that it would be our last moment together.  We got a chance, in some sense, to say goodbye.

I didn’t have such an opportunity with my mother.  Her passing was unexpected, and though she had been sick, no one could’ve predicted that the night before, where she asked me if I wanted to share her mac and cheese, would be the last real conversation we would have.  I’m not mad.  I understand how death works, and saying goodbye isn’t always in the cards.  But I reflected on those last moments tonight, as I listened to my friend talk about his last moments.  As we took a drink in celebration of his dads life.  My friend was strong, and was able to rationally accept the inevitable.

It’s not easy, but it forces us to remember the good.  All of the things that we probably took for granted, become etched in our memory as the foundation of our relationship.  The good, the bad, and the hilarious.  I still remember how my mother asked if she could have some of my 40.  LOL, she wasn’t ghetto on the outside.  A successful young woman by all accounts, raising her kids in the suburbs.  She had roots in the ghetto.  My grandmother who refused to leave the ghetto, even though as a little kid, I’d vowed to get her a house elsewhere.  We always want to give those who did so much for us, something better.

The things that make us who we are.  Life, in itself, is a big cliche.  But you can’t help but fall victim to those cliches.  How short it is, how you should cherish every moment, and how the only thing in life that is certain, is death.  I can’t say I find comfort in that, but I do find comfort in the fact that they made huge impacts on my life.  Made me who I am.  Maybe not alone, but in large ways.  I can only hope to have that same impact on others.  So, as I reflect on their lives, and their deaths, I reflect on mine.  My life and my impending death.  I’ve got work to do, but I’m confident, that the lessons they taught me, the words they said to me, and the guidance they gave me, will guide me to live my life in their name.  Carrying on their will, and sharing their words of wisdom, even if I speak them as myself.  I am not who I am because of me, but because of them.  I am lucky to still have my father riding with me.  His influence is just as great as theirs.  And part of the lesson is to not take him for granted, for even though I have loved one’s who have passed, I have loved one’s who are still impacting my life daily.  I am grateful….I am blessed.

So I end this with a thought and prayer for my friend and his family.  I can’t know what they’re going through because I am not them, but I know that they will be okay.  I know that they will reflect, and continue to live the lives that this man tried to lay out for them.  Death is not easy.  But its lessons are there, and we need to see how the lessons of life are amplified in death.  Our loved one’s last loving gesture to us.  To remember, reflect, and keep the memory…the dream…and the battle for something better, alive….so their love was not in vain.  God bless.

Love’s Pain

We were made to be emotional beings.  Some might say, that’s what separates us from animals, though that could be debated.  However, to feel emotion is to be alive.  Joy and happiness are things we strive for.  Though, to invite one emotion into your temple, is to open the door for others.

Love is one such emotion.  We pursue it with every ounce of our being, at times, never realizing that life is full of balance.  So to know love, is to breed pain.  I am no different, and I realize that love is something that I strive not only to find, but to be able to give.  But it’s that balance that I occasionally think of.  I know that love is a one way street, with speed limits of 65 plus miles an hour signs, and sharp curves that eventually lead to a dead end.  Full speed into hurt.  Many (myself included) have experienced that crash and though we, up until this point, have come out alive, we wear those scars.  Some of us wear them more prominently than others, but even if we cover them up in bright colored clothing, sporting a smile, the scars still exist.

Even more scary is that even if you’ve had a successful run with love, it all eventually comes to an end.  Almost seven years ago, I experienced the loss of my mother.  And though I can’t begin to explain the pain associated with that loss, I know as I looked into my fathers eyes, there was no pain greater than his.  It got me thinking about how they did all of the right things.  They came up from the ghetto to be successful business people, moved to the suburbs so their family could have a better life.  They raised three kids with level heads on their shoulders, and through their trials and tribulations found a way to make their marriage work by showering their love on one another.  Sometimes in grand fashion, and in ways that I have no knowledge of.  Yet, on that day we laid my mother to rest, my father was a broken man.  It wasn’t fair.  She, at the age of 48, was taken prematurely from a man that wanted nothing more than to go into old age with the women he loved.

It’s an extreme thought, but I began to wonder if it was worth it.  If no matter if you do everything right, or if you screw up constantly, your reward is pain, is it worth it?  That’s a narrow view, and as time wore on it became less and less of a concern.  As a rational human being, I know that the road in between; the things you do with one another to make each other happy, far outweighs the pain of the loss.  That includes losses due to your normal break ups.  But every once in awhile, I’m reminded that even if you do everything right..even if you nurture your relationship, make sacrifices, and let God be your guide, it all ends one way or another.  That’s a scary thought.

These rare and fleeting thoughts do not prevent me from trying my hand at love.  Living without it seems unfathomable, and though we have many reasons to live, giving and receiving love is still towards the top of that list.  But I can’t deny that occasionally, I may look into the eyes of the one I love, and shiver at the thought of losing her prematurely.  Regular break-ups may inspire signs of relief and rebirth, depending on your situation.  In those situations, you probably see the dead end coming and are able to brace yourself for the impact.  It’s the surprise curve, marked with a brick wall signaling a dead end that scares me.  No warning, great weather,open roads, and just when you’re ready to start cruising.  Maybe it’s different for those who make it to an old age together.  Maybe they’re better prepared.  I just can’t imagine losing my love that has driven that road of life with me for so long, in such final fashion.  I just pray that I enjoy it to the fullest while I have it (insert all of the cliche’s about cherishing those we love while their here because you never know how long they will be here).  It’s those things that make it worth it. Love’s joy, is greater than Love’s pain.  (sigh)

My Star Watching (Part 4 of 4)

My Star Watching

To all lost and fallen soldiers

You left your footprints in the sand as you left U.S soil

And your aspiration of bearing arms has given me a sense of security

How I wish your loved ones could see you again

If for just a moment

To say an everlasting nothing

That could quiet that deafening silence

Missing you does not seem as if it’s enough

And no amount of tears seems to ever make the pain go away

Sometimes I shed empty tears

Like a dry heave

The pain seems much heavier then

I will eventually come to terms

But make no mistake

Acceptance is not getting over….

I could never get over it, and I’m not trying

Life without you is not the same

Because you have touched many people

Saved many more who don’t even know you

We as a country will never forget you

By name, we may not know you

But your plight will remain in our minds

Your sacrifice will remain in our hearts

You were my soldier who watched over

And taken prematurely

So now you are represented by the sky

The heavens where you now reside

All of you twinkle and shine on us

A presence that will always be felt

Our Star Watching…My Star Watching

Thank you.