I believe that when someone that you love dies, that they don’t go to heaven or any other place. No, when someone close to you dies, their ailing body finally gets to rest, and is gone forever. It is the memories that you have of that person which live on forever, that you pass down to your children, and they to their children.
It is only now, with my first experience with the death of a family member, my Nanni, that I realize this. I believe that these memories which are even stronger than the physical body, have the potential to live on forever. And it is our responsibility, to ensure that Nanni’s sense of family and devoted love to her husband, her wit and humor, her innate love of the garden, and of course her Italian cheesecake, persevere.
What it really is, and I am realizing this now, is that while she was alive, Nanni would say things and I would half-heartedly listen. Well, I mean I would listen, but I guess I never truly understood. It is only now that she is physically gone, that all of those things that she has told me, the stories, the words of wisdom, and most prominently her voice, ring louder than they ever have before. This, I finally understand, is how people live on once they are gone. They live on as the person that they always were, in your thoughts, in your memories, and in the way that you live your day-to-day life. You hear her voice more clearly, you see her face and that blonde hair sits perfectly curled on her head, the way that it always was, before she fell so ill.
This, I have just learned, is what death really is. While it is scary to think that your body will cease to exist and you will no longer experience life with those around you, I believe that it is comforting to know that you do live on in the stronger, more persistent and clairvoyant memories of all of those lives whom you have touched. And this, I believe…
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