Wanted Dead and Alive

From the time I began writing this weekly note, at least five of its readers have died. Many more have lost a parent, family member, friend or co-worker during that same time.
 
Death, regretfully, is the ultimate fact of life.  Its certainty is inescapable.  Yet for many valid reasons we choose to put the question of our own mortality out of sight and out of mind.  
 
But when we hear someone has passed, we are confronted with reflecting on both their death and the eventuality our own.
 
The definition of dead and its antonym –alive — tell us very little about what it actually means.  In fact both are defined by the absence of the other.  Dead is “no longer alive” and alive “… not dead”
 
The words are abstract concepts that reflect both our finite physical state and our temporary emotional state of being (e.g. “I feel so alive” or “I feel dead inside”)
 
To consider the idea of being dead or alive can be isolating and fearful.  Or it can be communal and invigorating.
 
There are people in our lives who we have not seen or spoken to in years or even decades.  Some are deceased but many more are still with us.  Regardless, of their physical state, to think of them is to bring them to life once again. In doing so, we make that little part of ourselves that we shared with them come alive as well.
 
It is why the quotes of the poet Thomas Campbell “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die” or author Terry Prachette, “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken,” ring so true – long after they themselves have died.
 
And why this quote from poet Antonio Porchia  – “One lives in the hope of becoming a memory.” should echo as a constant reminder of how to spend our time.

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