Cold and untouchable? Sad and lamentable? Something to fear? The ending of one cycle and the beginning of another? Opportunity? Change?
Whether we like it or not, death is one of the few inevitables. Here in Mexico, death is celebrated as a natural part of life. During the famed Dia de los Muertos holiday, everyone takes a day to remember those who are no longer alive. And although traditions vary, the holiday is almost always observed with families coming together to dance, play music, share food, recount funny stories, and celebrate life in its entirety; all activities are typically done at the grave of a loved one. Can you imagine a graveyard filled with bright flowers, mariachis, laughter, and crowds of devoted loved ones? To me, it has been positively inspiring.
However, in being among friends jubilantly celebrating the lives of their loved ones, I could not help but reflect upon my personal experiences with death. Within the last month, I have lost someone. Within the last week, I began to fear the loss of another. And by happenstance, precisely on Dia de los Muertos, I learned with certitude that someone very close to me will die. Upon learning the latter, my thoughts were not immediately drawn to sadness. Rather, my gut-reaction was happiness that this person, in knowing, will certainly celebrate all of their remaining days. And I know that I will celebrate their life afterward, because this particular life is one worth celebrating, worth remembering, and worth living all the way to the end.
And so, in allowing my new home culture to influence me, my thoughts on death are evolving. From bitter to bittersweet. Maybe someday I can be like my fellow campañeros whose thoughts on death are filled with the sweet, laced only minor tinges of the bitter.
~ All photos are of adornments for Dia de los Muertos altars~
This post is dedicated to someone very near and dear to me.
I love you very much, and I always will. Now get out there and live!