I flew back into San Francisco yesterday, and people have been asking me how I’m doing. I tell them I don’t know.
All I know is that death inevitably changes us. Sometimes it takes looking at a body in a casket to understand how final death is. That finality has made me re-examine my own assumptions on how I want to live.
I haven’t fully processed my thoughts or emotions yet, and I am not sure if I ever will. But I want to capture a snapshot of my mind at this point in time:
I think at every moment in life we have a conscious choice – do we experience regret over the previous moment, or do we endeavor to make the present or future moment count?
My grandfather left my grandmother, so she became a single parent in her early 20s with my mom as her only child (think about being a single mom in those days). I think about everything that my grandmother had lived through in order to enable the life my mother has led, I think about everything they had to overcome in order for me to have an opportunity to own my hopes and struggles.
I think about the stories they had to be part of, for me to tell mine.
I can spend the next few months in grief and guilt, for all the time I couldn’t spend with them. Or I can make my own life count. And hopefully, by trying to make my life count, I get to help others make theirs count as well.
I’ve always known that the promise of death makes many other things look trivial in the grand scheme of things. This time, it took death to make me start comprehending what it means for an entire life to be lived and lost, relative to mine. I have lived most of my life with tons of insecurities and fear – while this year has been transformative in terms of self-empowerment, experiencing my grandmother’s passing while I’m 8,000 miles away took that to a whole new dimension.
It would have been terribly dishonorable to let myself get in the way of my life’s work, not only because of the struggles the women in my life had to go through, but because I have traded off my grandmother’s missing of her grandchild, in exchange for my self to feel alive.
It is something I will have to live with, and I want to make it worthwhile.