My father in law died a few days ago. He had been living with us for the last several years, and over these years, he had declined continuously. He had declined to the point where he was the shadow of the man who I knew when I married. In fact, my memories of the man I knew when I married had almost faded.
All I remembered was a man who had severe dementia, and who could not walk even a step. I would carry him to the bathroom for a bath, and carry him back.
Two weeks ago, he collapsed, and was bed ridden for the last two weeks in his life. We knew that his end was nigh, and we had realised, for a long time, that death was better for him than life.
When he was alive, he and his nurse occupied a physical and spiritual/ emotional space.
When he died, we were suddenly aware of the emptiness. While there is indeed a lightness in our apartment, there is an emptiness now, and there is a silence in the area where there used to be noise and action.
That is life. While we remember the dead, life moves on. It is like a never ending river, where the individual droplets coalesce to form a continuum, a coherent body of memories and collective subconscious.
When do you die really? Do you die when your spirit leaves your physical body and departs to whatever heavens exist – or not.
Do you die when memory of you dies away? Or, do you die when the impact of your actions on this earth die out completely?
I suppose that we will never really know the answers to these questions, and that they will remain in the empty, silent spaces that we leave behind.