Death, in my not so humble opinion, gets a bad rap.
In many stories, mine included, death is the ultimate horror. The final disaster that my hero must prevent at all costs, whether it be her own or that of a dear friend or family member. Death signifies failure, injustice, ugliness.
But why is that?
As human type people, we are the only species that does not readily accept death as a natural part of our existence. But it comes to all of us. Some early in life, some later. Some unexpected. Some very much expected. In the end, though, we all reach the final breath.
I would hope that most of my readers know that I am a Christian. Though I don’t try to preach in my novels, I doubt that I bury my faith. Nor do I want to. My goal, when I write, is to expand the minds of my readers. What they allow into their minds after the expansion, and what they choose to accept or reject, is entirely up to them. Jesus didn’t debate or browbeat anyone into faith. Neither shall I.
But my Christian faith tells me that death is not the end. In fact, in the face of eternity, one-hundred years of life on this planet is not even a measurable length of time. It is but a vapor, here one moment, gone the next. The difference between dying young and dying old is even less measurable by comparison.
For those of you who do not share my faith, death may seem more final. But I would argue that to exist at all is some sort of non-religious miracle. The odds of you and I being here, when many billions of embryonic cells died before and after us, never having drawn a breath, are astronomical. So whether we die within days of our birth or a hundred years later, we did live. Even if, by some standard set by no one in particular, some died “too young.” And if death truly is the end, we will never know that we passed before our time. No harm, no foul, right?
Death, I would argue, is not the worst event that will come into our lives. Many suffer much greater hardships, so great that they seek death as a relief. What would I view as a tragedy greater than death? I would say it is a life wasted. A person that has never taken a chance on love. Never attempted to make a dream into a reality. Never worked hard toward a goal. Never loved their neighbor as they love themselves.
You know, according to the Bible, the sin of murder ranks no higher or lower than the sin of adultery, dishonoring your parents, or theft. In fact, Jesus himself said that if you hate your brother, you have murdered him in your heart already. Ouch. Keep in mind that “brother” referred to anyone within the tribe or, in our case, circle of acquaintances.
And for you who do not share my faith, I think you won’t argue when I say that hating someone or holding up anger within your heart is much like death with a heartbeat. It’s empty, is it not? We all know people who wander through this life as the walking dead. They are simply a mass of flesh and bone with no purpose about them. Better than death?
So what is life? Love, forgiveness, work, fulfillment of a dream. If you’re angry with someone, forgive them. That’s life. Your life. Love your neighbor, your brother, your sister. If you’ve never set out to accomplish anything worthwhile, start now. If your heart yearns toward another, tell them. Do it now. This is why we exist. Life is not heartbeats and brainwaves. It is what you do with those precious gifts. And whatever you do, do it boldly. Seize the day as if it were your last. Life isn’t given to us. It is made.
To waste that gift. That, my friends, is the greater death.