Forgot to pour a little out for him last night.
I first met W. in Dublin. He was sitting down with a small, smiling crowd around him in the hostel I stayed in. Playing guitar. Singing. I made my way over to the music and took the cup of wine that W.
offered insisted. Then I took the guitar, and he sung blues and Bob Marley.
I didn’t see him much after I left the hostel and moved into my apartment. But once at Sweeney’s; it was reggae night in the dungeon downstairs. “Kinky Reggae”, Marley, was playing. Who do I see, stumbling through the crowd? He barely acknowledges me, but again
offers insists that I have a drink. A good, happy guy.
But his Facebook says he died. Just a few days before the posts from family members sharing links to the memorial and explaining the situation, he made a post about feeling sick, maybe from food poisoning.
W. was a young guy. A few years older than me. We weren’t very close, but were friends. I was struck by the news of his death.
Why was I so surprised? As I think about it, I realize it’s partly because our culture shies away from the topic of death. Unless you’re involved in “the battle” against death– long hospital hours, corrosive medicine, grueling treatments– you don’t hear about death except as a sudden tragedy. In truth, death is the only guaranteed assurance from life. If you are alive, you will certainly have death.
And anyways, who is to know what follows from life? Who knows what awaits us in death? We tuck death away from sight; we euphemize it. But it’s coming. Maybe it’s not so bad to realize that it comes. Maybe it gives us some perspective.
There is a certain quiet that comes to me that, after some thinking about it, I can only classify as divine. This sacred silence often comes during meditation, or in the early morning hours, or suddenly, from nowhere. Thinking about death also connects us me this mysterious, divine presence.
In some ways, I think death might be God. The power of death over our lives is absolute. We wouldn’t have life without death. Our lives derive meaning from death. Our motivations stem from death. We fear death. And perhaps only love and acceptance of death can ever bring us peace before our final peace.