It was brought to my attention yesterday that two good friends of mine lost someone. Both of them lost a grandparent, and it made me think about death.
Blaise Pascal is a well known for many different things, among them Pascal’s Triangle (here) and Pascal’s Wager (ici). Pascal’s Wager is what I’m going to mention now.
Pascal’s Wager is based on life after death and the existence of God. There are 4 parts to Pascal’s Wager:
1. If you live your life as if God exists, and God does exist, you’ve won big- hit the jackpot.
2. If you live your life as if God exists, and God does not exist, you’re not losing much because you’ve still lived your life as a good person.
3. If you live life as if God does not exist, and God exists, you’re going to hell. (he doesn’t say that but that’s the jist of this point)
4. If you live life as if God does not exist and God does not exist, then you’re not winning or losing.
Pascal’s Wager in a nutshell, everyone. I don’t know what to say to my friends. I’m sad for them, and I’ve been there, losing someone very close to you. How do you justify death? How do you tell someone they’re in a better place?
The correct answer is, you don’t. You can always say, “Oh, but so-and-so was really sick, they’re not suffering anymore at least”, but how is that supposed to make me feel better? How is that supposed to make anyone feel better? With things like that, what most people who have a foundation in religion do is ask God why my person and not someone else’s? You can’t expect to justify death by saying someone is better off. It’s like when you end a bad relationship- you’re better off, but maybe you wouldn’t have minded a little more suffering if it meant you could have that person kiss you again. It’s the same with death.
And, on top of that, if you’re like me and countless others, you’re not sure what that better place is, or if it even exists. What about purgatory? What if there is no life after death? How can I be sure my loving grandparent isn’t just… gone?
Again, you just can’t. You have to either take a leap of faith and tell yourself they’re in Heaven or where ever, or you stop yourself from thinking about it, and you just dwell in the fact that you simply wont be able to make memories with that person anymore. That’s the bottom line- all the memories you have of that person will someday fade, and you’ll go from having thousands to having eight, and you’ll just continue losing them.
I sometimes allow myself to lose the memories. Sometimes. And sometimes I tell myself that it’s alright to lose them.
You know how sometimes instinct takes over in certain situations, and you suddenly know what to do? Mothers picking up cars and stuff. I think that people you lose, when they’re on the verge of death, they suddenly achieve this higher level of thinking where all they want to do is forgive and be forgiven. And I think that if there is a life after death, in that place, they forgive you for forgetting. They let you forget because the brain wants you to forget painful things. Those memories will one day become beautiful for you, but for a while, they’ll only be painful. Unfortunately, you have two choices, and neither are good:
Choice 1: Keep those memories close to you and suffer now, to revel in happiness and some pain later, or,
Choice 2: Push those memories away and try to get through it, suffering later for forgetting them.
It may seem like the former is the right answer, and that’s because it really is. But unfortunately, depending on how you handle situations, you’ll subscribe to the latter, and regret it later. But, there’s a chance you’ll be able to recover your memories. If I were speaking to my friends, I’d say that I want to be there to help you keep those memories. I would say that I’ll be there to cry with you every time you talk about a funny story your nonno used to tell you or be there to bake with you when you want to make food your oma used to make you. I’m sure I’m not the only one, and I know that it’ll be hard now, but I’m close- not ever farther than a phone call away thanks to cellphones. I’ll be your crying shoulder, I’ll write songs about you, I’ll try to make you happy. I know we’re not as close as we should be, but life and baggage sometimes gets in the way, and no one can help that. Let me be there for you, because no one was there for me that way, and I lost so much in those years that I wish I could get back. No time will be long enough to get over it, and you’ll probably still cry at the cemetery, but if you let me, I’ll be right there crying with you.
The problems with all of that I just said, dear reader, are multiple.
I suppose one is that the two people have countless other people at their beck and call, not to mention family, who will be there for them. I’m really just a supplementary, and I’m fine with that. Another reason why they’ll never know this is because they’ll never read this, and I’ll never be able to say it to them because there’s never a right time in person to say any of that.
So, I’ll just have to help in other ways. Maybe this will still happen, with or without me. I hope that my two friends are okay, and that they become alright soon.
I’ve heard it said that, ‘pain leads to pleasure,’ ‘death is just a part of life’ and so on. I don’t fear death. You may be thinking, ‘but you’re so young- so much to live for- how can you not fear death?’ To you, dear hypothetical questioner, I say this, and if it’s flawed, don’t tell me:
The biggest fear humans have, after death, is being remembered; leaving some sort of legacy. I’m not afraid of being forgotten, because in a thousand years, I’m sure they’ll forget the names of the Caesers and the Tsars and the Philosophers. I’m none of those things, obviously, but why fear being forgotten when everything fades? When death comes for me, I’ll welcome it as an old friend, and float away happily, because when I die, there will be thousands to take my place- and maybe the people who come after me will be better than me, and they’ll create a world better than I could imagine. My death will make way for someone’s birth. And because I’m an organ donor, my death could save someone’s life.
Death is a part of life. You can accept it, be sad, angry, frustrated all you want. But in the end, seeing death helps you get over yours. And the sooner you become wary of death, and not frightened of it, the sooner you can become excited about life.
The sooner you can become more than what you are.