It may seem rather odd that I have chosen this topic for D. To most of us, death is the most powerful motivator for life. We are here in this world but for a short moment in time. Some of us get to live to a ripe old age of a hundred but many do not even get a chance to live outside the mothers’ wombs before time was up for them.
I was at a children’s ward many years ago to conduct a music program for the kids there, and one of the nurses had asked me if I could speak Chinese. I said yes and she asked if I could help console a mother of a child in the ward. I agreed and followed her into the ward. As I approached the bed where the mother was carrying her child, I suddenly realized how unprepared I was for this. The boy was crying, numbly, probably for many hours, probably due to the pain from the many bumps on his head due to end-stage cancer. On closer look, I realized his eye balls were protruding out like two ping-pong balls. The mother was staring blankly ahead. There were no more tears left. She had probably cried herself dry. I honestly did not know what to say to her to lessen her pain in knowing that her child is dying soon. I felt her sadness. As a mother, I would never want to be in her position. I can’t remember what I had said to her. No words would have been adequate to soothe the utter pain and devastation of having to lose one’s child this way. The first thing I had wanted to do when I left the hospital that day was to go back and hug my daughters tightly and never let them go. I told myself that as long as they are healthy and happy, I will not impose unnecessary expectations on them to achieve anything other than what they themselves want to achieve in life. Life is too short and precious to be wasted in useless bickering or aimless pursuits. Life is a miracle. We should constantly cherish it with joy and happiness!
Another incident reinforced my belief in the philosophy of joyful living. Joseph was a 6-year-old boy who absolutely loved trains. He had a collection of them which he had brought to our playgroup sessions to play with Arian and the other kids. His mother told me that she and her husband had saved enough money to bring Joseph to Europe to see the amazing trains there and to take a ride in them traveling to France, Germany and England. Joseph was a rather shy and quiet boy but when it came to trains, his eyes would light up and he would talk incessantly about them in his ever gentle and loving voice. His mother had wanted very much to homeschool him because he is such a gentle soul that she was afraid that schools might be too harsh an environment for him. I was fully supportive of the idea and told her that I was planning on starting a center in support of homeschoolers. She was very hopeful that Joseph could be part of it. Then, they stopped coming. I did not think much of it as she used to travel quite a bit because of her work. One early morning, I was woken up by a phone call – the man identified himself as Joseph’s dad and his shaking voice told me that something was not quite right. I listened with woeful dread the news of the passing of a most wonderful woman. Joseph had lost his dear mother! Again I can’t remember what words of consolation I had uttered. Perhaps there were none.
Death is certain. Life isn’t. Yet we are never prepared for the inevitable. I lost touch with Joseph after that. Wherever he may be, I truly hope he is happy. And wherever you may be, Kireen, I hope you are happy too.