petak, 29. ožujka 2013.

Dealing with Death

   On February 24th my father died. This was the main reason i didn't write any posts for this long. Ever since his death, i've been trying to write something meaningful, but i just couldn't. Right after the funeral, i meant to write a post in his honour, but now it seems to me that i needed just a bit more time to reflect on everything that happened. 

   On February 25th 1999, my grandmother, on my mother's side, died. She and my father were very close during their lives. They both died in same hospital, on same floor, they were buried on same date, next to each other. A lot of people could find that interesting, at the very least, but i still can't grasp should i even cosider to give it some kind of meaning.

   Even before my grandmother died, i had some sort of panic attacks when confronted with thinking about my own death. They started when i was nine or ten years old. I was able to overcome those feelings or thoughts when i first read Plato's Phaedo, when i was 17. So i went back to rereading Phaedo after my father's funeral. No one can read it without admiring Socrates and his bravery when it comes to dying. What Plato basically writes is that there can be just two possible outcomes after a person dies: a) either your soulless body sleeps for eternity, and therefore gets a well deserved rest, or b) your soul, which is immortal, goes on to experience the eternal life and enjoys or suffers there, depending on what kind of life you lived. Which ever be the case, Plato says, death isn't something we should be affraid of, but a rather joyful moment and place where we should find our peace.

   Since i found out that my father had cancer, i tried to imagine what would his death look like, where will it happen, what will i be doing at the time, how will i take it, and so on. I thought about it every day for the past two years. I also thought of telling him how i felt about him. I wanted to tell him how proud i am of everything he's done for me, of everything he achieved, and mostly how i had the greatest luck to have a father who was a truly honest and hard working man, who did everything for his children's sake. I wanted to tell him so much more than these few cliches. But i couldn't. I couldn't because it would mean that i'm saying goodbye, and i wasn't ready for that. I sure the hell know that i'm not ready even now!

   Although i was worried for my sister and my mother, because i didn't know how they will take it, i was very calm at the funeral. We all went together to visit him to hospital, a day before his death. I've watched just enough drama movies and TV shows to know better when it comes to hospital visits - i knew that i couldn't miss it. The doctors told us on saturday that it isn't likely for him to live untill monday. As i couldn't say it, i had to do goodbye. We saw him at the worst. I couldn't hold my tears. He died on sunday morning, and i will never know for sure wether or not he was even aware of our visit. As i stood at the funeral, watching my father's lifeless body, i was calm. I repeated Plato's words in my head like a mantra - relief comes after the pain, relief comes after the pain!

   Few weeks before my father died, i read a post by Tim Lott, on facing death, with similar situation i was in (link). I wish i could throw some wise quotes i learned from my father, but i can't. My father wasn't a philosopher, he was a farmer. He was an educated man, with a graduate degree in agriculture, and an expert in his field, but he was happiest when he worked with his hands, on his land. I guess that some people are remembered by what they said, and some by what they did. According to Plato, only those who lived an examined life deserve to experience the place of Ideas. I actually don't believe in anything anymore. I know one thing, tho - i am proud of myself for trying to teach myself how to be a better philosopher and i am proud of my father for teaching me how to be a better man. I am not sure wether or not i will be able to follow this path for the rest of my life, but i know that i will try - not because i owe it to him, but because I want to!

   On the morning of Socrates' death, the prison guard unlocked his chains. Socrates turned to his students and told them how strange is this thing we call pleasant, because it always follows  what we call painful. Both of them seem to play a little game, where they always come one after the other, but never at the same time. So, whatever may be the case, whether my father just sleeps an eternal sleep, or his souls wanders in some sort of heaven, i am sure that he found his peace.

Goodbye, dad!