Monday, July 15, 2024
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Guest Commentary

When mortality pays a visit

Have you considered the world without your favourite humans?

by Rukhsana Sukhan

We will each have a last day with our loved ones and we won’t know when that day will happen until its passed. We can do nothing about this. We have no control over life. We only think we do. Once in a while something happens to kick me in the gut and reset my ego. Those whom I love will not be around indefinitely. Do I love them enough? The universe reminded me this week that I could do better. It felt uncomfortable. It felt frightening to me. Love frightens me because of its power to render me so vulnerable. I am not in control when there is love involved. Love is a kind of awful surrender in which the truth gets thrown down at our feet.

Have you considered the world without your favourite humans? Have you forced yourself to play through the exercise of imagining a profound human loss in your life? Have you ever begged God for a life that was not your own? Have you ever felt that pleading with your entire being? Have you felt it so powerfully that it made you physically ill? Have you ever felt so so small and insignificant in the face of the power of the life that the universe wields? Have you ever felt the degree to which love renders you vulnerable and open and compelled to trust God? What does that even mean, trust God? It feels to me like falling backwards off a cliff, willingly. Why would I willing pitch myself over the precipice into the abysmal unknown? It feels horribly frightening to think of and yet it feels somewhat natural and purposeful to do.

The beloved friend you are waiting on patiently to give you a DM reply could be out living his best life and doing the things, he could have just missed your message because you are one amongst many and unimportant, he could have just forgotten because a billion other others compete for his time and attention, or he could be on a stretcher in hospital ER because he is having a serious cardiac episode that has the potential to threaten his life. When you live across the continent you have no way of knowing. It’s easy to take people and life for granted and imagine that people will always be around and that nothing is ever going to falter or fail and that everything is about your inner asshole. Then, the human condition reminds us of its frailty once every so often. When that happens everything feels uncomfortable, like ill-fitting clothes.

I was reminded this week that mortality is an atrocious + confounding thing.

It felt awful. I felt powerless. I felt wretchedly humbled. My petty Self can serve as no match for the formidable intricate power of life, necessarily defined by the limits it imposes on us all. A friend I have grown quite fond of, someone whom I have come to love a lot (more than I realised actually and it surprised me), got seriously ill and I was not expecting it. It frightened me. It disturbed me. It kept me awake for several nights in a row. As if overthinking the mortality of a human I feel quite attached to will serve any purpose. Why do we ruminate? I think I do it to try to understand my fear, to deconstruct it, to make the battle easier engage when it unfolds.

Basically I am saying I still do not have a hot clue how to face this grief and loss and separation thing, even with small drills and tests that turn out ok. Because the knowledge of how horrible and painful separation feels like and looms heavily like a Damocles’ Sword. Still I get to choose how to live with this reality that those whom I love have limits and will not be around indefinitely. I can behave like Anakin Skywalker, who ultimately turns to the dark side to cope. I can behave like Galadriel, a queen who harnesses the grace and fortitude of her character and spirit to embrace the light — to swim across the Sundering Sea and keep loving.

Does the gift of friendship and relational love make the inevitability of separation worthwhile? I didn’t always believe it did. In fact until very recently I convinced myself that I didn’t like humans and that human connection created too much pain to feel worthwhile. Something changed. I don’t know what. Perhaps when people you love die they pass on some of their best traits, and maybe when my mother died two years ago she reminded me that the answer is Yes.

That’s a personal call. It’s risky. Courage calls to courage. My mother had more courage to love than I could possibly possess. So, even after a frightening week of human vulnerability and wretched uncertainty, my answer remains resoundingly Yes. It is worth it to love even though I know loss will follow one day.

Not everything that happens in life with your people is because of you. Sh1t happens. People do the best they can with what they have and with the circumstance they face. The world does not conspire against you, that’s your projection. The whole world isn’t my mirror, and I often find myself staring into it as though it were. I often fail to love as well and urgently as I could—this begins with the Self — to believe I belong and believe I AM love, i.e. the breath of God. It never hurts to take the opportunity the universe or God presents to be a better human and to love those whom I love better and more patiently and with more intensity.

Remember love. Love is indeed louder.

God reminded me this week to love more urgently and with more patience and diligence. Oh, that’s a bit difficult, the patience thing. My friend is worth this effort though, and may you have many years with us still, my friend.

*****

Rukhsana Sukhan is the author of “Adventures of Bad Hajabi” on Substack, where this article was originally published. Used with permission.