James Giago Davies. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today
Protected by an unimaginable eternity
The finality of death has no rival
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Columnist
nativesunnews.today Back when my boy Griffin turned five, he reasoned out that at some future point, I was going to die. This brought him to tears, and I had to hold him and comfort him, and assure him that would not happen for a long time. I could have been wrong, but telling him I could die that very day, although another realization he would eventually arrive at on his own, seemed excessive given the load he was already bearing up under. He was graduated from Sturgis High School last year and he is now nearing the age I was when my father died. At this point he has lost two grandparents, an uncle and various house pets. That is probably standard. These days he doesn’t cry about me dying someday, although I am definitely closer to that day than when he was five. Our minds adjust, we find ways to better process mortality, to avoid the wall of childhood grief we slam into when we first realize death threatens every person we hold dear. Recently his Grampa Jack died. Just a few years back Grampa Jack was surprisingly fit for a man in his late sixties. He was still working, living pretty much the way he had 20 years earlier. But once the cancer struck, the wheels came off fast, and the Grampa Jack we knew withered away within months. I can still see his face, hear his voice, because he hasn’t yet been gone a year. My brother Jerry died in 2015, my mom died in 2013, and both are still fresh in my mind. But my dad died in 1982 and most days I cannot picture the details of his face, or hear his gruff voice. My brother Lloyd died in 1978, when he was 15, and it takes an old photograph to jar any memory to life of who he was, the expression in his eyes, the sound of his laughter. He would have turned 55 this year, but he will always be 15, because the moment we lost him, was a final moment. The finality of death has no rival. Not a single person we have ever known has ever returned from death. Humans have constructed elaborate afterlife scenarios where the dead live on, where all of us will live on, once we surely die. But more than the promise, the hope, these afterlives supply, there lingers the painfully poignant truth, that everything we love dies, and if they survive in some other form, in some other realm, as long as we live, they are lost to us, and we can only speculate. I have never gotten over the death of my little brother Lloyd. But when I sit and watch my own sons play video games with their friends, the pain of his loss makes their lives that much more meaningful. To the extent I ever see him anymore, I see him in them, in some expression, some gesture, some reaction, he still shares this world with me through them, and if I lost them like I lost him, I have now reached the point where grief will not overwhelm me as it did with Lloyd. In some way I can’t explain, I have forgiven death for being death, and the dead for being dead. Because death is so final that finality has become a comforting finality—nothing in the world that took their life can ever hurt them again. They are protected by an unimaginable eternity.
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