A man is in a church packed with his loved ones. He’s dressed in his very best, and cleanly shaven for the most important day of his life. This isn’t his wedding. It’s his funeral. His death was the most influential thing in his life, bringing old friends together and causing old enemies to weep. Everyone is in the crowded little room to share memories and stories. But most of all they’re mourning over his passing. This is the effect death has on people. It will change you in ways you never thought was possible. This is what I believe: the power of death.
Until a cold December five years ago, I was a child. I was naïve, immature, and ignorant of life’s many harsh realities. It only took one afternoon to force me into adulthood. It was the last time my dad was in this world. My dad had a severe heart attack on his way to buy Christmas presents for the coming holiday. He was quickly rushed to the hospital, given CPR, and administered immediate medical treatment. Even with the work and effort of so many people, he died.
I was shocked. I always knew my dad to be strong, invincible. He was a superhero to help me whenever I needed rescuing. The week after his death was a blur to me, all I did was lie in bed, staring at the wall. I didn’t want to get up, I didn’t even want to eat. The world was supposed to leave me alone, because I didn’t want to have to go to his funeral, not as a ten year old boy. Even though I knew it was the right thing to do, I just didn’t want to have to see my dad as another corpse in the ground. I just didn’t want to grow up.
The reality is that everyone will die someday. Nothing can stop it, and eventually everyone has to deal with death. I think it took me three days of starvation to figure out something that is so simple. After the funeral ended, I had two new things on my mind. I wanted to stop wasting my life and enjoy myself. Lastly, and most importantly, I wanted to make sure the people I cared about were always happy, even at my expense.
It was kind of weird to be ten years old and have these thoughts on mind, but it guided the next few years of my life. I quit band, I hated the trombone. I quit football, I wanted more time to write poetry. In so many ways I made myself happier, made life more enjoyable everyday. I got good grades because it made my mom happy, and whenever my grandma came over to visit, I’d be the first one to give her a hug, and the last one to stop waving goodbye. For the first time, and still today, I worked to make my life better.
I loved my dad. He made me most of the person I am today. But the most important lesson I learned was something I could only learn from his death. Are you happy with your life? I am. Thanks Dad.
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