The world was inundated with water, rain spewing from the heavens as if G-d himself was crying. I was in the first half of Sixth grade at the time, and I was very much unprepared for the news to come. My grandmother Rose, one of the proudest, most genuine human beings alive, had passed away, after months of battling stroke after stroke, until she finally passed into a coma, and then left my universe forever. It was this day that I began to learn the most important of all life lessons: nothing good lasts forever, or even for very long. This is not only what I believe, this is what I know.
Before my first year in middle school, I was still a child, and had never experienced the phenomenon of death before. That all changed when my grandma Rose died. She was one of the most loving, influential people in my life, and she never once yelled at or insulted me. Before her death, I always took her for granted, but afterwards, I realized something: while all these materialistic things that cloud our lives are certainly important, loved ones are a person’s true life lines, and death will always be their fate, no matter how hard we try to stall it. Realizing this, I entered a period of short depression in my life, and I would often stay awake wondering about death, and what it meant. I didn’t realize that death was inevitable, and that what I really feared was the unknown that death brings with it, an unknown that can never be scientifically revealed. Thus, each night I would run downstairs in my pajamas, and have my mom repeatedly tell me that our entire family (including me) would live forever and never have to be faced with this problem of the unknown.
This period of temporary comfort lasted for years, until the whole scenario left my mind completely. And yet, very recently, it returned. I was fasting vigorously and praying unusually fast last Yom Kippur (the day of Jewish atonement), and I couldn’t wait to just end it and stuff my face with some food. As we were going over the initial afternoon services, however, we came to the mourners’ prayers. During this, an older gentleman fell down, possibly from fasting complications. As his family crowded around him, and Emergency Medical Personnel came to take him away, the cantor kept on singing, unaware that the old man’s family was crying profusely around their sick patriarch. As I stood watching with my eyes, while Hebrew continued to flow out of my mouth on its own, I began to fear he really would die, right in front of my very eyes during my own plea for personal forgiveness from G-d. Later on, however, I learned that the man did recover, but the emotions of the event still lingered with me, emotions I had not felt since the death of my grandmother. The reality that we all must die eventually and face this hellish unknown that we still don’t understand after millions of years of existence.
And so I come to the present now, the future being my greatest fear. Presently, my beliefs have changed. I now realize not only that death takes all good things away, but it isn’t death that we fear, but the unknown and a fear of the unfulfilled. The reason being is that death is the only thing that cannot be proven scientifically, and so all of our worldly comforts and family go away allowing our imaginations to go wild with images of hell and suffering. In addition, some of us also feel the fear of having wasted their life, not achieving full happiness or accomplishment. And so, I wonder now: When I die, will I be remembered? Will it be painful? Will I cease to exist? All of these questions are indeed the shadows of my nightmares, and the subjects of my terror. It is through this that I gain the only cure for death I know: inspiration. The inspiration to be remembered as a hero, to make my name immortal for a good cause, somewhat like my grandmother is in my mind. For now, however, death is inevitable, and no matter how good I am, I know I t will always win in the end.
Death: it’s the only thing in life that is unpreventable, the only thing in life I fear. Death is the unbiased decider of when your life ends, no matter how good you are. This is what I believe; this is what I live by. This is the nature of death!
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