When Milestones Into Headstones Change
Death is one of life’s most feared imperatives; an unpostponable guest. It came knocking at the door of my dear friend on 05 March 2016.
Saturday, 19 March 2016, will remain seared into my memory; permanently sealed in my mental vault. I must also indicate that in my late friend’s culture, it is customary to mourn an adult person for two weeks (death to grave).
My friend and colleague was laid to rest on this partly overcast, slightly windy Saturday. And yes, he was a Christian. The church service in the holiday town of Swakopmund (a coastal town in Namibia, for the benefit of those who are possessed of an erratic sense of orientation or those who, for some inexplicable reason, loathed or simply feared Geography at school) was a sombre affair: long eulogies, unending, grief-inducing dirges; they even had a bewailing 12-year old sing a sad requiem, seemingly, to nudge everyone on the precipice of melancholy and deep mournfulness. Really, aren’t we sad enough already?
It was, in point of fact, a dual-service held concurrently with that of a young woman whose life was, as fate may have it, cut short at one of those numerous nightspots in the township in the small hours of that odiously thieving Saturday, 5th of March 2016, the very same day my friend disappeared beyond that imaginary door which only opens once and shuts forever on each of us in this world, a future realm, to borrow from Christian speak.
To be clear; I am not a fan of churches. I might be innately spiritual but religious I, definitely, am not. The tedium of sitting helpessly for hours on end on hard, restrictive church benches is insufferable to me. I have always associated these spired edifices with death, boring, repetitive sermons by dress-wearing, self-righteous old men, eloquent orators peddling in fantasies while perfecting the art of religious sophistry; and that ever-present collection plate.
Believe me, I used to go to church in my teens (maybe counting five times, a proud achievement, in hindsight) and each of these trips left me with more questions than answers on the subject of religion in general, Christianity in specificity.
But, I digress a little.
Admittedly, my poignant, grief-imbued experience brought about by death of my friend left me with guilt and a hopeless sense of responsibility caused by the sight of his grief-striken family made to stand before the inquisitive mourners. Apparently someone had the mischievous foresight of subjecting them to a parade of sorrow. I always found this spectacle unconscionable considering the circumstances!
Besides who would require a widow and orphans to stand before hordes of mourners as though they were suspects of a crime undergoing some identification parade at a local police station?
Why not just sit them in the front row, in the fitst place where they are easily identifiable?
In the fullness of time, I take refuge in the words of James Russell Lowell:
‘As life life runs on, the road grows strange with faces new and near the end the milestones into headstones change. Needn’t everyone a friend?’.
Thank You. Keep Reading.