Shades of Gray
We felt it. Today, we all did. The grief and the sorrow that comes from losing a loved one. But it was not just any loved one. It was him. Charlie. Our little Charlie. The one who we had all watched being birthed, through that glass as his mother did her thing in the bathing suite. The one for whom we had all shouted in joy, as we passed him hand to hand, everyone eager to hold him- to hold our little blessing, the newest of us.
The others think it's so cruel. Cruel that he had been taken from home so soon.Barely ten years since that day in the hospital, where we hooted and gave cat calls, giving him the royal welcome. How do I tell them? How do I let them know I feel differently, that though I grieve, I'm also glad. Glad cause I know death couldn't have been more wonderful to Charlie. Just life. For the way it let death take him.
Charlie had been diagnosed with the rare cancer almost three years ago. Had fought it, again and again, but it just kept coming back. It had hurt to see our little Charlie become a shadow of who he was once, our little star, fading slowly each day. Three months after his first set of chemotherapy, the first time he had had his head shaved. I'd been there. When he had silently slipped his hand into his mother's and said
"Ma. I want to go. It hurts so much. I just want to rest."
I can never forget the look on Angeline's face. She had panicked, and looked at me for help, unwilling to accept that her little boy wanted to leave. To even try to comprehend it. She had not seen it, but I had. When he had looked into my eyes with those blue ones, I had seen the truth in his words. The need in them.
"Make her understand aunt Claire. Make her see I want to go."
My heart had broken completely at his broken plea and in the months that followed, I had tried to piece them together for him. I had known he needed me to be strong with him, since no one else would let him go. He had said it again last week and this time, everyone had let him be, telling him it was okay with nods and whispers of love. Only Angeline had cried when his lashes fluttered close for the last time, later than night. But today, everyone had cried. I had too, but for a different reason. I had cried from relief because as we lowered him into his final resting place, I had believed he was free for good, just as they had finally realised he was gone for good.
I eventually asked the question that had been snickering at the back of my mind all these years.
"Why do we fear death?"
Charlie had not been afraid. He had welcomed it with peace, seeing it for what it was. You see when we die, there is no more pain. No more sorrow, no more grief. Just rest. Sweet rest. Where we know nothing or remember any. So why do we fear death? Something that offers us such finite escape?
James, Charlie's dad had answered my questions...
"Claire... We fear death because just as we don't feel pain and sorrow and grief, we also do not feel love and happiness and family. It is the nothingness that we fear. The nothingness and the uncertainty of the other side. And we fear for the people we leave behind. Those who would never be the same without us. But most of all, we fear that which we leave unfinished"
I had simply smiled and responded "How can you fear nothingness? When even that, you do not feel? And that which you leave unfinished, you would still leave behind wouldn't you? Even after finishing. After all the suffering to do so." Then, I walked away, unwilling to further the discussion.
All I know is that Charlie might have felt the pain of cancer- however, he got saved, before he could feel the sorrow of growing up.