My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light!
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
There's a saying that those whom the gods love die young.
My dear, dear friend Victor's brother, Gerard, died just recently. He would've turned 37 today. I've never met him, but it was still a shock to learn of his unexpected death, and at such a young age. The question "why?" arises in such cases. I'm not saying that death in the elderly is any less tragic, but it somehow seems more overwhelming, more stupefying when the Grim Reaper comes with his indiscriminating scythe for those who are still in their youth.
In Greek mythology, the fates of of one and all (including those of the gods) are decided by three goddesses collectively known as The Fates (duh). Clotho is responsible for spinning the thread of life; Lachesis' task is to measure each person's life-thread; Atropos, with her scissors, is the thread-cutter, the bringer of death.
My question is, by what standards does Lachesis decide how long or short a person's thread is? Is it subject to her whims? Or does she allocate each thread's length in accordance to foresight and insight which she alone knows and understands? In any case, it hardly seems fair, and understanding why something could be so is very difficult, especially in the first days, weeks, months when the grief is still new and at its most painful.
But maybe understanding of such a devastating and life-changing event comes later to those whom the dead leave behind. Maybe one of the steps leading to eventual understanding is acceptance. Acceptance of physical separation, acceptance of departure, acceptance of see-you-again-soon even while asking why-the-hell-did-you-have-to-go-now.
In the meantime, there are the memories. Memories of both big and little events - the latter so much the sweeter sometimes: the way he sang, the way he walked, the fire in his eyes when he talked about something important to him, his stance while astride his Harley, the sound of his laughter. Memories of his moments of sadness and anger, since both good and bad moments are part of living, just as death is part of life. Maybe one day such memories will bring smiles and laughter more than pain and tears.
Thirty-six years is but a blink of an eye in the vastness of eternity, but such a treasure trove of memories those years can bring. The thread has been cut, the candle has been snuffed out, but his light, music, and voice live on in the hearts of his family and friends, they whom he loved in life and who love him immensely both in life and in death.