I mourned. But deep inside there’s that sense of freedom in losing a father. This may sound sinister, but death does that to a person. Death liberates the person who died and death also liberates the bereaved. When my father died, I had freedom, my father too.
I remember going to work and people were rushing to a grassy area; people were congregating. I jumped out of the tricycle I was riding and went with the people to look at what they’re looking at. There lying on the grass was my childhood best friend Antonio Gruizo Jr.
We had a lot of fun, yes; Tonio and I had a lot of fun. He’s a genius when it comes to pranks. I remember him putting firecrackers on balled up mud and throwing them while shouting “grrrraaaaannnaaadddaaa!” Not content with the mud, he started using dog turds, and where will that lead but to the ultimate weapon—the human turd grenade, the precursor of biological weapons. (I’m not joking! Alexander the Great was considered the father of biological weapon. He was the first documented general that used animal carcasses, and what else, anything that will pollute the enemies’ fortifications, and it is safe to assume that some crazy catapultiers and trebuchetiers included human excrements in their “warheads”.) We made our neighbor’s life miserable with all that stuffs splattered everywhere. Yes, we did have fun.
I went into alcohol (of course I'm out of it now) and Tonio went into drugs, there we parted ways.
I was looking at Tonio’s body, his head was bashed; the piece of bloodied rock was still there. His underwear’s waistband was cut by the butcher’s knife that was used to stab him so many times. He looked different: the grimace of death on his ashen face, like he was taunting death; the bloodied nails that meant he tried to scale the concrete walls, cat like; the wounds on his arms, he tried to fend off those knife stabs. The bare feet and his old worn sandals lying near him. Tonio was a fast runner. I know because I know; he was cornered. I can only imagine the fear he experienced, the fear, the fear…the fear of being killed, the pain of being killed, and the loneliness of being killed.
“You know George, Tonio had a lot story about you,” Virgie, Tonio’s wife, told me, “So many stories about you.”
“George, it is better this way, at least I know my where my son is. I don’t have to spend sleepless nights waiting for him.” Ka Fe, Tonio’s mother, sobbed.
The loneliness of dying.
From the Book of Zhuang Li:
When Lao Zi died, Chin Shih went to the funeral. A disciple said: ‘Were you not a friend of the the Master?’ ‘Yes’. ‘Then is it proper to mourn him this way?’ ‘Yes, when I first arrived, I thought his spirit was really here. Now I know it wasn’t. When I went to mourn, the old people were wailing as though they had lost their son. The young ones were crying as though they had lost their mother. Since they were all together, they talked and wept without control. This is avoiding heaven, indulging in sentiment, ignoring what is natural. In the old days, it was called the penalty after violating the law of nature. The master came because it was time. He left because he followed the natural flow. Be content with the moment, and be willing to follow the grief of joy. In the old days this was called freedom from bondage.
I remember during the burial of my wife’s grandmother, “George, don’t let the candle die”, my father in law told me. I was not used to such superstitions since I grew up in an “enlightened” family. But I did give my hours watching the candle watching over my grand mother-in-law’s body. The living watching the non-living watching the dead. It’s an interesting chain of connections that shows how people deal with cadavers.
I don’t think it’s the loss, how can it be? The feeling of loss last only a few hours to be replaced by the feeling of liberation.
All those superstitious belief about death, about not letting all the mourner sleep lest the cadaver was taken by body snatchers to be replaced by a banana trunk, about the young one’s being passed over the coffin, the throwing of the flowers, what is it all about? It’s not about the loss, it’s all about conscience. Cramming all the good things that ought to be done to the person when they were still alive who are now dead who now will and never and can’t even appreciate what is the fuss all about. No, all these things are for the benefit of the living, contrition, a soap opera. Burn the body, it doesn’t matter—it’s fertilizer anyway.
Death is liberating.
Seating is better than Standing
Lying is better than Standing
Sleeping is better than Lying
Death is better than Sleeping
I was reading a phenomenology about death, in there was Karl Rahner’s idea about death, it is that it is an act of man, the freedom to say yes or no to his openness to God…the culmination of his life…a totality. It is not an isolated act from his other free acts.
I have always viewed death as the cessation of life. Something that we can’t do anything about, something that should be feared, something that should be expected but not awaited. Of course this thinking made me fatalist about death…like I’m a walking time bomb where in the back of my mind I will be extinguished any moment. Booommmm!
What is death then? Freedom--a liberation.
What about the after-life?
No one has come back from the dead. All those Near Death Experiences is nothing but a near dear death phenomenon. Nothing divine about those experiences. In fact, there are cases of hanging were in the person hanged ejaculated in their pants, orgasms; and there are sexual deviations where people allow their partners to strangle them to near death to experience gratification. NDE’s experience of heaven, nah, hallucinations, trips, stimulation, is what they are. But if it happened to me, who knows, I may believe otherwise.
What is my attitude about the after life?
I’ll take Pascal’s gambit.
(But) God does not play dice.—Einstein
I have to, sometimes. Anyway it’s not all about the possibilities, its all about the security.
1Co 15:54 So when this takes place, and the mortal has been changed into the immortal, then the scripture will come true: "Death is destroyed; victory is complete!"
The Christian model of death is Christ’s death. It is all about the perpetuation of life, immortality, rewards and punishment, the ultimate equalizer where those who do not belong to Christ will be meted out their dues. Death is the final enemy to be overcome. Death is an evil force. Death is evil. Evil is death.
Death the final equalizer.
And the act of defecating, where we all humble ourselves to the “seat” and worship the bowl--the penultimate equalizer. (Now, where did that came from?)
I’m not afraid of death. I’m afraid of dying. I’m not afraid of the event, I’m afraid of the process.