Facing death

“What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you will be.” This phrase I read in the crypt of the Capuchin monks under Santa Maria della Concezione Church in Rome last month, seemed to predict everything it happened only a few days later after coming back from holiday. Suddenly hugging my daughter became a desperate act when thoughts like missing the most important events in her life, finding a replacement to advise and help her, writing her a letter to read when she will be an adult etc. were racing through my mind. My entire life perspective changed overnight. I suddenly realized how little I needed actually to be happy and how stupid I was to not live with joy and happiness each blessed moment I had on earth till this happened.

Suddenly my life started to follow a complicated and strict routine of countless medical visits and tests. I hoped that everything would go back where it was not long ago. But this time I swore that I would live my life differently. Only if I had the chance to take it from the beginning, I would value and worship every little moment and move mountains with the things I would do and change the world. Only if I had a second chance I would pray and believe in God, I wouldn’t stay away from churches anymore and I would thank God for every day. Only if I had more time to live, I would be a much better person in all ways.

And I was here before, 9 years ago I was writing “Now I can see what is beautiful and what is important. It was a time when I was looking for happiness, I did not know what it was, I did not know if it didn’t even exist…” Closed between walls in a painful waiting I realized then for the first time that happiness was being able to do the most simple things and having around the people you love.

Dostoevsky facing execution, talks about how he thought in those last minutes about changing his life if he had a second chance, but he wasted much of it in gambling and drinking. But I thought that this time I learned something and I would make my life worth, only if I had this second chance.

Suddenly I thought that I had the cure for all people’s problems like loneliness, sadness or feeling unloved. “My dear friend, I wrote the other day to a very depressed friend, you have no right to feel like this, if you were in my shoes, you would think how easy would be to find ways to not feel this way not even a second. How lucky you are and how I envy you my friend for your worries, as all my worries are actually a terrible fear not of death or countless operations and debilitating treatments which could be in vain anyway, but the fear of the unknown and not being around for my child and my family. So, you see my friend, you can actually call your children to see how they are, invite a friend to dinner or go out, you can try helping someone. There are countless ways to make you feel less lonely or more loved, but nothing left for me. When I felt like you, I just refused to let go to all happiness it was in me, as happiness is in us, do not look for it elsewhere, and never blame anyone for not loving you. Love, like happiness comes from within and doesn’t depend on anyone else than us. Facing death has actually showed me that love starts with loving myself, as for the first time I realized how important I was for the happiness of my family.”

The last tests results after surgery brought my previous life back in less than a second. The intensity which I lived my life with lately is left behind, and here I am again trying to keep my promises. I learned though or rather I remembered that life is a precious gift and I have all reasons to be happy. And I try to not forget again that happiness is something that I have already and I don’t have to fight for, and it doesn’t depend on achieving something I want or being loved. Happiness is here, now, I, as long as I am able to dream about the future.

Journal Comments

  • Carlos Solorza
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