Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Mortality of the Immortal

Life...I wonder...will it take me under...I dunno... 

Those words are the opening line to a popular 90s hit by Nas featuring Lauryn Hill, "If I Ruled The World" and I felt like those words would be the perfect opening to this blog post. Why? Because if there was anything that could take someone under it would be losing one of their immortals (a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or child). The topic of this blog post has been on my heart, actually for almost 5 years, but has really come to light over the last 48 hours. As many of you may know, my father has battled tremendous health challenges for the last 5 years. What his fight has shown me is that my father is mortal. I've been fortunate that I haven't had a lot of death affect me directly. I had a conversation with my cousin, who is now in a similar place. My cousin mentioned to me during our conversation that one of his students lost his mother when he was 14. My cousin responded, if there was ANYTHING that would take him out of the game, it would be having to deal with that, especially at such a young age. We agreed that you don't think of having to deal with something like that, until you have to deal with something like that. You don't think you have to deal with it because there are some people who are in your life forever. They are your immortals. For example, here's a look at my situation with one of my immortals, my father.

In October 2007, I was faced with the strong possibility of losing my father. My father, you know, the big light skinned guy that everyone in the neighborhood knew and liked, the guy would drove the blue and the green van, the man who commuted over an hour to work to a job that provided so much for his family, the first man I ever loved and loved me, the person who first taught me about sports, my super hero, my daddy. Growing up, I had regular (read: daily) interactions with my father. He went to work everyday and came home every night. We talked about our days. Even when I lived on the East Coast, I still had a connection with my father. So in 2007 when that connection was interrupted, it caused changes and thoughts in me I could have never dreamed of. I remember being younger having the thought that IF (not when, but if) my parents had to die, I would want them to die together. In my mind, they were together when I came in this world, so I felt that they should leave the same way. In 2007, that thought was challenged, when my father laid in the hospital for a LONG time, following his heart trauma (attack). One half of my everything was laying in bed, fighting for his life. It was at this point that I realized that my Superman, Iron Man - my super hero, wasn't super. He was mortal. And in that moment, I was seeing that mortality up close and personal.

Now I'm not a "parent", but I've been around enough of them, and I have a couple of my own to have some insight to the ways that they might see things. From the moment a child is born, a lot of parents treat their child as an immortal. Yes, this is an irrational thought but to new parents, it doesn't matter. Parents see their children as the gravity that holds their Earth together, the sun in their solar system - their everything. To parents, their children will live forever. From a child's perspective, it's similar. There are these people who have been in my life from the beginning. Everything I have, everything that I am, is because of these two people who love me and support me. My parents will live forever.

What happens, when a child has to bury a parent or even worse when a parent has to bury a child? What happens when a church has to bury their pastor? What happens when a nation loses a leader? That is one of the life changing moments when you have to deal with the mortality of the immortal. I recognize (rationally) that there is a very strong possibility that I will have to say an earthly goodbye to my immortals - my parents, my grand mother, aunts, uncles and children because no one lives forever. Even though Jesus lives today, He still died. Memories live for a long time, but can fade when enough time has passed. I might be someone's immortal, but there will be a time when I won't be here. The rationality of it all is that nothing, no one lives for ever. Therefore, no matter who you are or what super powers you have, you are still mortal. 

I can say that seeing my father come off of my immortal pedestal to his mortal plane, I (believe) am in a better place to deal with and move past that time when it comes. I take less things for granted with him and I know that WHEN (not if) it happens, there is nothing that I can do about it other than thank God for that time in my life. Also, I have friends who have had to face the mortality of their immortals and when my time comes, I will look to them for inspiration and courage. If you can bury a child and continue on your journey, I love and respect you for that. If you've buried a parent, grandparent or a sibling and keep pressing on, I salute you and am inspired by you. If you have dealt with the mortality of your immortal, God bless you. While it's a feeling that I wouldn't wish upon anyone one, I know it's something that we will have to deal with eventually. And as I continue to age, I realize that more and more I have to deal with the mortality of the immortal...

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