Monday, October 25, 2004

Freedom from Death

I am thirty-five years old. According to statistics, I have a chance of reaching seventy years old. As the years pass by, I am suddenly becoming aware of the passing of people. Relatives who surprised me with their vigor at the age of seventy now seem so vulnerable at the age of eighty.

My father passed away when I was sixteeen, and my mother entered the beyond when I was twenty-nine years old. A friend of mine at work talked to me when my mother passed away. He mentioned how he felt that he was truly alone in this world when his father passed. When you lose both of your parents, it is as if you join a club of loners.

My teacher told us a story that happened to him when his mother passed away. As he was sitting in the crowd, an older woman was laughing, whispering to another woman and pointing to him. When he asked why she was laughing, the woman replied, "You are free." My teacher was taken aback. He did not understand what the old woman said. The woman just kept repeating to him "You are free."

Years later, my teacher would tell us about that day in his life. He had come to realize that the freedom is real. He is free to lead his life, to follow his own counsel and to create a world for his own without having to ask permission or approval from his parents.

In the death of parents, I have seen many people cry and be sad. I only hope that in the end, they will see that their life is their own now. That it is okay to feel sad for a little bit of time. But that after that sadness, they must choose to be happy. They must choose to live a life and not think of what might have been and what could have been.

This one is for Uncle Pablo Ruiz who passed away this month. A World War II veteran. A marcher in the Bataan Death March. A father, grandfather and great-grandfather. An anonymous veteran from whom much is owed by this generation.

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