DEATH IN THE FAMILY
“To die today or 50 years from now does not matter. It is in dying that the gods envy the mortals.”
—–Achilles (in Homer’s epic poem Iliad)
January 30, 2015 was the date when 44 fallen soldiers were brought to Manila after a botched military operation in Mindanao, the biggest casualty count in the conflict between rebels and government. It was also the 40th day of mourning on the death of a retired government functionary, the matriarch of the Tesoro clan of Quezon City. As if following a script, it would also be the passage of the patriarch of the Josue family. It would be a string of events leading towards the end of a storied life by youthful soldiers on one hand and the demise of two important people in the life of a struggling community on the other end.
It was an interlude for mourning. It was a period of recollecting dreams and recounting accomplishments. It was a time devoted for their memories. A few generations from now, their names would have been forgotten except as a footnote in the family tree, if at all there is significance at all. All mortals follow the same route, from recognition to oblivion, from start to finish. Those departed are all around us waiting for the day of reckoning, the day when they would all be absorbed in heaven and life continues subsequently in an everlasting way.
It was also a moment for contemplation. 10 or 20 years from now, life would have been very different. Like gadgets with only months as its life span before a new one goes into the market. While it has been said that life today was far greater in importance than before, it is still incapable of a lasting consideration. We have as yet to address what ails man and makes his life expand a little longer. Life is too precious to leave behind. While memories tend to overshoot temporal count, it nonetheless fades away. Not even greatness is a passport for eternal recognition.
We mourn not because of sadness brought about when a loved one crossed over but because we never had that chance brought about by technology to savor the success of science in improving life and addressing death in its past tense.