From Stardust to Stardust

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‘And in the end it’s not the years in your life; it’s the life in your years’ – Abraham Lincoln

There comes a time in your life when you experience a death that is almost crippling in its impact, that engulfs life almost completely, taking by the shoulders and giving it a rigorous shake. Afterwards, nothing’s quite the same. For one thing, you develop paranoia. Every time somebody goes to hospital, or on a long trip, you fear for them just a tiny bit. Or when the phone rings in unexpected times, you tend to expect the worst; drawing out the ‘Hello?’ with a cautious inflection.

Yet with the paranoia comes the impression that everything is suddenly clearer. Food must be chewed thoroughly, laughter must be hearty, smiles must be genuine. Grief is like a drug in that way–bad for you but good for you, changing the way you percieve things. After death, you see life in the highest definition–your definition of what constitutes fulfillment. You put more thought into a letter; you put extra sincerity in your ‘Ingat!’ to any friend taking his or her leave. Life in its routine mundanity returns to normal after a long dark period of mourning, but it is different in that every color becomes sharper. Because now you understand that life is fleeting; walk all you like along the smooth shore, but the waves will wash your prints away.

So walk in wet cement; walk with inky soles all over a clean sheet of paper, walk on the surface of the moon and leave your mark, no matter how small. Walk while you still can, and run when you feel like you’re never going to die. There comes a time when you experience a death that tells you how to live life, and forever after that you understand the gravity and importance of those who pass away. You mourn for everyone from your closest cousin
to the grandmother of a friend who you only met once
to an aborted baby denied of the chance to feel the warmth of the sun in her hair
to victims of war
to the one relative who collapsed in the street
to another young celebrity taken too soon by substance abuse

Afterward, you tread more carefully and run more recklessly at the same time, until the road ends and you topple off, and explode into a million tiny tiny bits–

ashes to ashes, stardust to stardust, leaving bits of yourself in the sky to light the way for those who remain.

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