By Christopher Ryan
I’ve always had a close relationship with death, which is interesting because I’ve never lost anyone who was exceptionally close to me. My great grandfather passed when I was 5, never giving me enough time to cultivate a relationship with him or even understand his absence at future family gatherings. I lost my great grandmother when I was 18. I was in college when she passed away, which is highly unusual for someone of that age to have a living great grandmother. I had friends who were already losing grandparents and parents, and I had just lost my great grandmother.
I have always been highly aware of my mortality. At the age of ten, I wrote a poem about death. I was ahead of my time, I still am. I questioned the existence of an after life. I worried about what life would be like without me here. I wondered what death would be like. I envied all the people who would survive without me and get to experience more time, more love, more life than me. I remember sharing it with my mother and she looked at me quizzically. Ten year old’s were supposed to be outside playing basketball or playing indoors with Legos, and here I was writing poems about death and dying.
In my adult life, I have lost three friends. Friends whom my relationships with have only scratched the surface. Good, strong, big hearted people who in their short pages in my book of life have weaved their way into my existence and impacted it for the better. In the age of social media, I took to Facebook to write about my most memorable experiences with them, because even if they were on a page or two in my book, their story of their time with me needed to be shared with the world.
Once my post has been publicly shared, I will peruse through the other Facebook users’ memories of the now deceased, reading about the way this person has influenced the lives of others.
I could spend hours on Facebook, reading through the posts of those who have died.
Last month, they’re posting about the brunch where they were finally able to catch up with their friends amidst their busy schedules. Last week, they’re posting about the intense cardio workout their trainer pushed them through encouraging a healthy mind, body, and soul. Yesterday, they’re posting about the two cups of coffee that kick started their busy work day of client meetings, running reports, and media planning. And today, they’re gone.
At least once a day now, a Facebook friends will post about someone they have lost, tag them in that status, and write a special moment the two of them shared. I find myself clicking on the tagged person, the one who passed away suddenly and even if I do not know them, I feel it’s my duty to acknowledge their existence and legacy.
If there is any silver lining in death, and No, it’s not “they are in a better place now,” it would be the way you are remembered. The way people whom you have impacted in some manner think about you after you leave this world. There is such beauty in memories.
After we are gone, there is only the memory of us, and our legacy to leave behind. If you died tomorrow, how would people remember you? I think about this every single day. You and I may live to be 90, or you and I may die, abruptly, in the middle of our books, never able to finish the story we’ve spent our entire lives writing. The truth is, youand I might not get another chapter, Live a life without regret, because the one thing worse than your book ending in the middle, is making it to the end, looking back on all of the chapters and thinking about everything you would have done differently. How do you want to be remembered? What memories do you want people to write about you for the world to see?