A designer at work passed away this morning. Lung Cancer. I never spoke to the lady, much, but there was something about her that told me had I talked to her it would have been welcomed. I never did.
I know what you’re thinking, another post about death. It occurred to me, today, that perhaps it’s not a mild obsession with death that affects me but the experience in which it changed me. After my brother died, I gained this spiritual connection to humanity that I never had before; compassion.
Today when I heard about my co-worker and the gathering we were having to ‘share stories,’ I wanted to attend. Not because I knew her well enough to have a story, per se, but because within me was this compassion for those that knew her well and loved her. I want be there simply to pay my respects to the lady that I never spoke to and to those that thought very fondly of her.
It took three valium for me to attend my brother’s funeral. I sat there, marinating in the calm before the storm, and turned my head around to search the room. I like to stare. I stare and most people don’t even know, but when your loved one is the focus of the gathering it is different. You’re the one being stared out. I stare at people because I find them beautiful. Sometimes not physically, but somthing about them fills in the holes in life for me; the description of my stories. The woman I stared at for nearly an hour in the coffee shop that tried her damndest to sit with herself but was interrupted by the devices of technology. The man that had no chivalry that I saw during my early morning train and then again in the evening – where did this man come from that has total disregard for politeness to women? Naturally, I develop his character by assuming his mother left him and his father at a young age. Sometimes I feel I am placed there to trigger this by tapping on his shoulder and asking how come he felt such little compassion for the old lady trying to get on the train that he would cut her off, but I never involve myself that directly into his story. No, I just watch. But, my brother’s funeral was different; I was the one being watched. I turned around in my seat to stare like I was accustomed to, but I saw eyes looking at me, not judging but welcoming. Eyes that said “I’m here when you need me.”
My whole life I have struggled with being judgmental. I think about my pain and the funeral and all the support I could see around me, and I wonder if this feeling I learned – compassion – could be used in more than death. That way, if we regard each other every single day with compassion, we would initiate hello’s before it’s too late and we would show up just out of regard. Now, I didn’t know everyone at my brother’s funeral but I did know they had a story to share and it involved my brother – regardless or not of if they actually shared it with me.
Maybe I won’t have a detailed story tomorrow at the gathering to trade stories about our coworker, but I can certainly relate to changes that death brings in people and a hope that it actually does change someone. I find this change the most endearing change of life, but I still hope it’s not just found in death. This I try to achieve, so I’ll go be just another eye in which someone lost was seen.
Rest in Peace Periel Tunaligil from mtv.com design. I was the one that never said hello while you were here, but Godspeed.