Dealing with Death | Death is Freedom | Death is Glory

  • Posted March 20, 2013

Spring is just around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere, so naturally, it seems the opportune time to write about death. True, conventional thought would lead most to consider this primarily a time of birth and renewal. But to be more in depth with reality, we really need to start with death. Some people have trouble dealing with death, but death and life are NOT mutually exclusive. They are both integral to each other. So let’s start your spring off with death!

Spring around the corner | Dealing with Death | Death is Freedom | Death is Glory www.procinctu.info

No, no…. not death metal! I mean, that video is great, but let’s stay on topic….

Dealing with Death is one thing that is assured for all of us. It used to be death and taxes, but more and more people don’t even pay taxes, they just live off of the taxpayers. So now it’s just death. We all face it at some point. It first strikes our loved ones, our friends, our enemies, and finally, us. However, while we all know it’s coming, we usually don’t know when or how.

Some people struggle during their final years on earth, others have unexpected death. The worst deathblows to make any sense of are those to the young. The premature death of a life unfullfilled is the most tragic. 53 years old…37….22….the unborn…..all tragic, or are they?

Just a few days ago, I promised you a more personal experience on this site…. so here it goes. I’m going to start with the death which, thus far, has been most personal to me. Then we’ll go into my interpretation on death and how we should leverage it. If you have any doubt, hopefully by the end of this post, you will be convinced that DEATH IS GLORY.

MURDER

In my mind, I’m comfortable with my way of dealing with death and it seems that I handle death cooly.  I’m not easily surprised by it. I don’t think it’s attributed to an amount of apathy, but more like a constant state of readiness. Even now, I’ll receive a call from my mother saying that so-and-so has died, to which my response usually is something like “Oh yeah?” I’ll hear her out, hang up, and then say some prayers for their soul and the family’s consolation. Usually, there is not much else I can do from this side.

Looking back to a date that won’t easily erase from my memory, it was November 14, 2011. From an onlooker, it may have looked like shock. However, it more felt like the calculation of a mathematical equation. I received the call sometime before 6 am. This time I was visiting home when his brother’s somber, troubled voice went something like this, ”Travis……Tony was shot and killed.” I can’t recall the exact wording from there as it was broken English, but I immediately began calculating the ‘what next.’ Drive hours back to DC, get to consulate, have money, address work, console my friends, etc…….

I first met Antonio Perez as he was a 17 year old who just made his way into America. It must have been sometime in late summer 2006 when we were digging out dirt from the basement of a restaurant on H st NE, DC. It was night time of course, because working all hours is just something we do. And I remember even then he had that grin which seemed always ready to beam. I treated the guys to some banana splits, and one of us dropped some of it my truck door (it was probably me). The furthest thing from my mind that night was that he would become my closest friend…..and murdered in 5 years.

Game 5 | Dealing with Death | Death is Freedom | Death is Glory www.procinctu.infoTony (as I soon nicknamed him) was for sure my closest friend in D.C., and by extension among the closest anywhere. When I had an event in mind, he would be the first I’d ask and by far the most likely to go. A playoff hockey game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals? Si! Heavy metal show? Vamos! Trip to the beach? Que hora?!

I really seriously doubt he was into any illegal activity (except for coming to the US, ha). He showed up for work every day, and we did enough outside of work that I would have noticed anything extra. But he did have a vice of occasional over consumption of alcohol and also one of stubbornness. He wouldn’t take anything from people and wouldn’t be shy to state as much either.

One night, as I was leaving town, I drove upon him as he was walking intoxicated with another friend of his late at night. This being the first time I saw him in this state, it left me with an uneasy feeling, but no more alarming than the millions of other people who go clubbing and to bars drinking more than they should. But that sight stuck with me. Did a combination of his mouth and alcohol anger off the wrong person? We have no way of knowing.

silicone box | Dealing with Death | Death is Freedom | Death is Glory www.procinctu.infoThe last time I saw him, I was leaving town again. This time he was working, but they needed silicone to complete the job before I left. So I called to drop it off outside the location on my way out. I made a joke to him, something about standing of the corner like the chicas did in that area sometimes, if you catch my drift…. And that was it. As I drove on, I remember glancing in the rear view mirror as he ran back across the street to the job with a box of silicone… Ha ha. But that would be the last I saw him alive, running with a box of silicone, across the street, in the rain. Considering our humor, it’s fitting I think.

So as it was then and is now, we are left with no motive, no suspects, no information whatsoever. Only that a 22 year old was shot once in the head and twice to the chest for no apparent reason. Calculate THAT one.

HOW TO COMPUTE

To me, it’s still an equation. Another thing in life to comprehend, solve, and apply.

First, I recognize that every day is a miracle. Death is a certainty, but the timeliness of death is largely unknown. Whether it’s Tony at age 22, Joey an H St bar mogul at 37, Mark a previous lawn cutting client of mine at 53, my Nanu’s close friend Joe at 81, the lawyer who preceded over my name change, or my longtime neighbor at 85. Death will not discriminate and we will all be confronted by death….at any time.

Tony was last year, but the others listed all were within the last few months. With so many deaths around us, by human nature, we will then look at our own death. Will it be in fear or reverence?

NOT MORBIDITY, BUT REALITY

plane | silicone box | Dealing with Death | Death is Freedom | Death is Glory www.procinctu.info

I have arrived.

Bringing this back to my own state of mind, is it morbid to joke about my own possible but hopefully unlikely death? Well if so, I’m going to in order to make my point anyway. For at this hour exactly one week from now, I will be well into a 9.5 hour plane flight, the second leg of nearly 12 hours in the air total. This will be my first of this kind. Also, the first several week stay, traveling solo, in a foreign country.

Can something go wrong on this venture? You bet. Is there a chance I will face death. Sure. But is that chance any higher than it is working construction in Washington, D.C.? I think not. Judging by the three bullet holes in Tony… definitely not.

Besides, if it was by plane, what a way to go! Again, I’m not tempting God, but just commentating. Quick, no deterioration, and only the memory of you would be left. “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return” is what we hear to start off Lent. That in itself is humbling, but for it to actually happen in a flash is pretty remarkable and unique.

THIS IS LIVING?

So taking the risk of death, versus the reward of what I may learn or find on the trip… this decision to go is a no-brainer. Further, I really do pity those who don’t do such things out of fear.

To add a little short social commentary in here, we live in such a unique time in history. Up is down. Right is wrong. Everything that is moral is mocked, and everything of debauchery is emulated.

We truly live amidst a culture of death. I know there are some exceptions, but as a whole, society has come to accept destruction as normal. We are surrounded by lemmings that seem scared of death and scared to live. But simultaneously, they are O.K. to see that life is actually valued less and less. Things we are conditioned to accept:

  • abortion
  • 9-5 desk job
  • drones

office | silicone box | Dealing with Death | Death is Freedom | Death is Glory www.procinctu.info*Fear of bringing a new life into the world. It will be hard and expensive and sometimes unexpected….. so you’re going to kill it?!
*Fear of working a job you actually enjoy. It may be tough to make ends meet and it would be riddled with uncertainty……so you’ll die a slow death never accomplishing what you want?!
*Fear for security. Bubba may be plotting the overthrow of government, or Mahmoud wants to blow up your mall….. so you’re going to allow drones to roam over your head?!

Even the attitude towards death has greatly shifted over the last several decades. Have you ever seen the Post-Mortem youtube videos? Well here you go. If families posed in photos with their dead loved ones now, they’d probably be locked up. Is it really that crazy to embrace death for what it is? But I tend to question which really is the insane generation. (it’s our own)

Anyway, ask yourself which is more chivalrous. To debase life in fear of death, or to defend life with no fear of death. I prefer to live up to the latter.

FRAME OF MIND

We are only human, so pain and suffering will hit us all. However, the mental aspect of how one addresses pain and suffering is what separates individuals. I’m not certain he was the originator, but Lou Holtz is quoted saying, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.”

Why do some have the drive and focus to rise out of the ghetto? Or why do others of prestige squander their inheritance and find themselves in the gutter? It’s all your frame of mind, if only we all realized the power we really have.

Instead of lamenting the death, we should cherish and be inspired by the life. Use the time spent with your loved deceased to appreciate the miracle it was. It is how we respond to the deaths and live out their memory which will really steer our course.

Death will confront all of us, but how you use it to feed off of is totally up to you.

DEALING WITH DEATH….APATHY?

Here is where I may lose some of you. But it’s my reality, so oh well. Personally, I have a hard time feeling sorry for those who have died. That mostly has to do with my faith. If you don’t believe in God, then this particular post may not resonate with you. The time of mourning surrounding death is more like a pity gesture for those who are still alive. Oftentimes, it’s a well-deserved pity, but a pity nonetheless.

We can pray for the souls of those living and deceased, but what is beneficial, and what is detrimental? The deceased have already moved on. If the Judge looks on them favorably, not only will they never feel pain again, but they are actually experiencing the greatest of rewards.

Though if the Judge does not recognize them, well then, that truly is tragic. And then the question arises if they are even worth mourning in the first place.

bonhoeffer | Dealing with Death | Death is Freedom | Death is Glory www.procinctu.info

click pic for book

A brutal pill to swallow for sure, but Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that death is the last station on the road to freedom. I throw his name into here because some of his writings concerning death are worth the read. And his story in general may be of interest to you. He was a pastor involved in the conspiracy against Hitler in Nazi Germany and ultimately paid for it with his life.

But back to what he said. That’s not to endorse a murderous rampage in the name of liberation. But it’s more of a reflection on how you are to look at your own death. When you focus on DEATH as the final stop towards FREEDOM, it translates to a different, more honest approach to LIFE.

Too many people live their lives in fear or unfulfillment. That lack of life is more deathly than any actual death could cause. Of course, we are speaking in another realm.

DEATH IS FREEDOM | DEATH IS GLORY

Death is in fact glorious. Again, if you have no faith in the Supreme Being, this post may not be of help to you. But if you do believe, then maybe this post could change your life, or at least give you a better frame of mind when dealing with death. Myself being a Catholic, I can only confidently speak in regards to our Bible. And if you are a Christian, and believe in God, and in His Kingdom, then you know what awaits you. And that is the most powerful weapon of all. Knowing where you will rest if you live in answer to God’s call.

With this knowledge of God’s Kingdom, how can one not yearn for that destination? To finally reach home… To transition from this life into the next… It is a most mysterious, unparalleled event for sure. Yet, it is the most exuberant and jubilant we will face.

It does not discriminate. It cares not whether you are young or old, crippled or able-bodied, sharp or forgetful. To God, 100 years is but a blink of an eye. Who are we to say that after 22, 37, 53, 81, or 85 years that we’ve had enough or haven’t had enough?

It really makes no difference how LONG you spent your time on this earth. In death you are judged by HOW you spent that time. And that is when the real life begins. This earthly life is just a big preparation for the real life that lies beyond.
So how can any of us be afraid to think about death? Dealing with death should come like waking up in the morning.

I believe death is only terrible for those who live terribly and live in terror of it. However, if we keep faith in God’s word, death is freedom, death is glory…glory for the glorious. Is it any coincidence that through God’s only Son, death was needed to pave the way for the resurrection? Why do you think it is regarded as the most holy time in Christianity? Death is the foundation to life.

resurrection | Dealing with Death | Death is Freedom | Death is Glory www.procinctu.infoIt is amazing that something which faces all of us, is also something that we can transform through our perspective. Death is only what we make it out to be. If you live scared and in fear, then it may devour you. But live in anticipation of it, and it will propel you to your true home. The home of an everlasting peaceful kingdom, free from need and pain.

So death is the greatest gift God has for us on this earth. It is our gateway to finally see God face to face. To be reunited with all those who have gone before us, to meet those who will come after us….truly amazing stuff. Why sit there and contemplate, debate, and wrestle with the fear of death when it’s the most glorious event we can possibly experience?!

So it’s true that death can be hell and anguish if it is not transformed by our faith. But that’s the best part and what you are to take from this writing. As you sit at your computer or your phone reading this that you CAN actually transform death!

In Closing, You should absolutely use death for your own leverage. Draw on the inspiration of those who have gone before you. From the greatest, live up to their precedent. From the not so great, learn from their shortcomings. Do not fear death, for it is just another station in life…. a life culminating in absolute freedom. Treat death for what it is. Do not hold back. Stay true to what you believe and live a just life to the fullest. Because if you don’t, you will only end up betraying yourself. Then death really will be something to fear.

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For Today | Breaker | Phoenix | 2012 | Razor & Tie Records
lyrics: Step up! There is no glory without death. Step up. Who will answer the call? Death is glory! Death is Glory! I will rise from the ashes of my own death to abundant life under the cross, and I will not be turned back, but I will come with an army… For more, click the link above.

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