When People Die, Happy Tears Aside

If you start your week on Sundays, mine began with a wedding and then slid quickly towards three nationally based and internationally discussed deaths. The wedding was a beautiful celebration, as things are when loving sweaty work is put into them. The deaths were more like warnings, as things become when fear is neglectfully filed away for the unrealized courage of yet another day.

When Amy came walking up the grassy aisle, arm and arm with her beaming father, I couldn’t help but cry: nose running, I wish I didn’t have this much make-up on tears. She was radiant with a love nurtured for six years on a day when she would again mark a commitment to companionship and unity. She was making a decision, with good natured faith that demanded joy, all the ceremony-silenced tears of it.

When people die I don’t often cry. In fact, I think I might be more of a happy crier than a sad one. It could be that sadness does not surprise me as much, underwhelming in its frequency. Or it could be that death seems unceremoniously internalized. In this sense my tears are to be shared with those still breathing to illicit and bear witness to them, saved as a sort of communion.

Instead, when people die I often grow internally silent. A silence that waits for reason. A silence that is necessarily receptive to any external evidence for making sense. More often the sense is the same, terminal illnesses aside, people die because death is more naturalized than courage.

When the world morns with the noise of a shockingly remembered vitality I try to remain in a sustainable balance of acknowledgement, reflection and humble unknowing. This silence reminds me that I too am breathing with life. My daily beginnings must not be in the hastiness of reaction but in the understanding of continuation, ready for loving sweaty work underway now and necessarily to come.

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