Theme II, Sunsets: On Death

By Dana Reszutek

Editor’s note: The idea of a loved one passing away is a frightening one. In an often-cold city like New York, sometimes an open dialogue about these things can be cathartic.

Death happens. This concept has been pushed back into my mind for the hopes of ignorantly forgetting that life, in fact, ends. My first recollection of it was the death of my first pet — a goldfish I lovingly named Julia. Having scooped her from a kiddie pool at a backyard birthday party, my five-year-old hands clutched the bag containing the partially-squished creature whose life was diminished at the power of small toddlers. Excitedly, I placed Julia in a fishbowl at home, along with my sister’s choosing — a strong-willed fish by the name of Goldie, who survived my household for nearly four years.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

Waking up to feed my newfound pet, I was shocked to discover that Julia’s pleasant swim had turned into a lifeless float. Julia was given a proper burial with a trip down the Connecticut sewer system, and that was that — she was gone, and I moved on with life.

But death — aside from parting ways with a fish — doesn’t really work this way. It takes its circulatory role with life quite seriously, and though we all know the inevitable, it seems to shock us every time.

I see life in cycles — day and night, sunrise and sunset, life and death. Though each section may give off a lasting air, such phases are merely finite — while the sun may set, it’s sure to appear again in the morning.

Over the summer, I seemed to lose touch with the cyclical aspect of life — I feared that the sun would set, the light would be forever dimmed. I spent most days wondering if this would be the last chance to reach out, the last chance to say goodbye.

My grandfather has been in poor health for some time now; having suffered from a stroke and further complications, my family and I have spent the past six months handling the constant stream of falls, hospitalizations and worries. Living in separate states, I rely on emails and calls for updates. Every missed call or voicemail from my parents causes a surge of fear to spread through me — I never knew when that call was coming.

And I still don’t. As fast as the shock comes of poor health, sometimes the rest happens slowly, and you’re left unsure of what time you have left.

I’ve learned to enjoy every moment I can still have with my grandfather. Though these calls and visits are not the easiest to get through, it’s important to remember that these moments aren’t one-sided — every minute spent with him is one that he’ll treasure. We can appreciate the daylight that’s left instead of wondering when the sun will set.

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