I didn’t think about death before Lucy died but after her early death, I started feel my own mortality as if it was just around the corner. The cyst on my knee could be cancer and I am done for. I saw myself going down in a plane or being hit by a car.
I could hear the tragic story being told, “Her friend died from cancer and within a year, she died too.” The other person would say, “Oh, that’s so sad. Then. What’s for lunch?” The problem with death, is when you are mourning it, there is hardly anyone to turn to, because life is for the living only.
It feels lonely but who could understand. Even my husband had trouble understanding. I was annoyed at people at times, especially empty exchanges. Inside I was singing the Smiths, “Why do I spend valuable time with people who don’t care if I… live or die.” I started to realize how anti-climactic my own death would be and that made me resent life. Some people would be sad for a little while. They would say few nice things about me, but then they would say, “I have to go to the bathroom,” because the living can’t help but live.
At Lucy’s shiva, her Dad said, “Now we all have to be better for Lisa.” At first I thought that meant I had to become a better person, but that was too hard to become. Then I thought that I might have to achieve something, and I am not good with that kind of pressure. Now I just think I have to feel better. I have to get better at living and try not focusing on the tragedy of dying.
We are all dying, if we see it or not. To worry about death is to be a clock that is afraid of the battery running out. It just happens and none of us know when or how or why. All we can do is try hard to be happy; it’s difficult enough.
There was one waiter here at the hotel; his name was Claudio. He was friendly with smart eyes and a bright smile that greeted us every morning. We instantly connected and he told us bits of his life in our spare time. Stories about his girlfriend who was twenty-one and ten years younger than him, about how jealous she was of him and how he was scared of moving in with her but already planned it. He was leaving our hotel to study in San Jose. He made jokes and remembered to get me my decaf coffee. Every time we left the hotel, we bumped into Claudio in surrounding towns. Today was the last day we would see him and we said goodbye and wished him lots of luck in his studies and life.
“Well, see you!” he said warmly but catching himself because it was doubtful that we will see him, “maybe in the next life,” he smiled.
“Yeah,” I said, “see you, Claudio.”
Something about the way he said that made me think that I really might see him in the next life. And if I see Claudio, then I will see Lucy for sure.