We went to the memorial service for my friend, Jason, last Saturday. It was held at the DeGrazia Mission, which, despite it's name, is more of an art gallery than anything. To my relief, there were no clergy present. But too much talk of him being in a "better place" for my liking. I can't really fault people taking what comfort they can from loss.
As for me, I would take it as a kindness if, when my time comes, those I leave behind would forego all that silliness. Given a choice, I prefer a hard truth over a comforting fable.
It is a hard thing to know that the only immortality we get, is in the memories of those we leave behind. It behooves us to make sure those memories are good ones. But even those memories only last a couple of generations, if you're lucky.
We live our lives on the crest of a wave, crashing through time, until eventually we end up as a single drop, among the countless others, in that great sea of Those Who Came Before.
For instance, this morning on YouTube, I was watching some very early films. Street scenes from Edwardian England, taken around 1900. As I watched, I realized that even the youngest of those pictured were gone now. I found myself curious about them. How they lived their lives, and what became of them. Life is precious. They deserved remembrance. I felt myself grieving a little. Not only over their lives and deaths, but over their anonymity.
But as I continued to watch, I would catch a glimpse of...something. A smile, a gesture, a resemblance, a gait. Something that reminded me of someone I know today.
And I thought that perhaps we weren't so separate and anonymous, after all.