In an article for the American newspaper “Nytimes”, writer Charles Blue recounts a harsh experience due to the death of his older brother Frederick Edward Blue, 58, who had been fighting autoimmune sarcoidosis for nearly two decades.
The writer says that most people never knew how ill his brother was; Because he was hiding the truth about his illness, but in the end his body became greatly exhausted, and he could no longer resist.
In the details, he says that he received a voice mail from his frightened mother, on Friday, before his brother’s death, in which she said, “Charles, it is very important, it is very important, call me.” In her trembling voice there was a monologue, echoing in her audible sighs.
He called his mother, and told him that she was in the hospital with his brother, and that “his heart had indeed stopped. But the doctors resuscitated him and he came back to life,” but he remained connected to a ventilator.
Messages hide the pain
He asked his mother about his brother’s diagnosis, but she told him she didn’t ask many questions; Because she does not want to know the answers. It was a shock. He texted his brother a few weeks ago to inquire about his recent bout of illness, but simply replied that he was “in better shape, and thanked him.” So, he thought his condition was getting better, but he was actually dying.
After hearing this news, he booked a ticket for the next morning. But the doctors said that his brother would not live until the night. However, he persisted due to the ventilator … but he was not able to reach the hospital before his death, as they separated his brother from the ventilator 15 minutes before his arrival.
Family members wandered sadly around the parking lot in the hospital, and due to the measures to combat the Covid-19 virus, only two people were allowed in, and his two sons were these two people.
The writer focused his gaze on his mother, who was sitting alone on a stone bench in front of the hospital door. He went to her and hugged her to console her, and she burst into tears in his arms.
Racism in death
A week later, the family gathered at a separate cemetery waiting for Frederick to be placed in his final resting place, and if you asked the locals about this cemetery, it is not a separate cemetery, but rather two cemeteries – one for whites and the other for blacks – separated by a connected fence.
The writer mentioned that his brother was the first member of the fourth generation of the family to be buried in this separate cemetery, and he now knows where he will be buried. But he has to decide whether to allow him to be buried in a separate cemetery to be close to his family, or whether he wants to be buried in another cemetery that is not based on the principle of apartheid.
The writer believes that the racism that haunts blacks even to the grave is nothing but one of the life lessons highlighted by Frederick’s death. Here are the most important lessons:
The importance of family and society
When a member of the black community was dying, Charles’s mother would go to the deceased’s family’s house and take with her something to express condolences, whether a pie or a cake, some soft drinks, and a small sum of money.
He had no idea how the deceased’s family felt about these dealings until his brother passed away. This society will not allow you to grieve on your own, but rather stand beside you, encircle you and pull you out of your grief. Each person brings something symbolic with him, then everyone meets and chats, laughing or shedding tears, in other words their grief is common.
The importance of planning for a death
The writer assured that his brother had no plan to die, and did not even write a will, while he was embarrassed; Because he didn’t do it either, but he will work on it.
He stresses the importance of the pre-mortem plan, because your relatives will want to know your last desires if you are in a state of clinical death, like his brother, and what your desires are when it comes to the funeral, memorialization and burial, relatives will have to make a huge number of decisions and try to guess what the deceased might want; So you have to inform them beforehand.
Regardless of the amount of your wealth, it is necessary to write your will, in addition to the things of monetary value, and there are things of emotional value; Therefore, you should plan how to distribute them after your death, which in turn will ease confusion and conflict between your relatives.
How Corona changed our rituals
In addition to strict restrictions preventing people from being in hospital when his brother died, the Coronavirus has completely changed the way individuals grieve. Everyone who entered the house had to wear a face mask. Most of the people, however, were not even allowed in, and remained standing outside in the open air.
Since they were unable to hold the funeral inside, the funeral was moved outside, with separate seats reserved for family members, while the others stood in small family groups under the shade of the scattered trees.
Live life as it should be
We must stop living this life as if it were a theatrical experience; Because you will only have the opportunity to perform one, you do not have time to fear or hesitate; Rather, you have to pursue your dreams, act on your nature, express your love for whomever you want, and live free.
You have to stop procrastinating and think you have time to do whatever you want, as his brother was 58 years old, only eight years older than him, and he was talking about his desire to return to Louisiana; But he did not want to give up early retirement and bear the consequences, knowing that he was planning to do all this next year; Except that he did not live for the next year, never enjoyed the money he saved, and did not buy the house he wanted; He died in a small rented apartment in Texas.
How did the south contribute to the formation of my personality?
The writer explained that he listened to many people over the weekend, which reminded him of how much he liked the beautiful poetic language used by Southerners, especially black people. It is a flexible and lively way of speaking, more like singing than speaking.
This way of speaking was evident in the words of one of his relatives, who came to deliver the food; But she did not want to stay for long, and told them that she “will come to be by their side when silence comes,” which is a wonderful and full of meaning.
It is precisely for this reason that he likes to classify himself as a writer from the South: because this is the natural way in which he speaks, as he had to learn to accept it and not feel embarrassed by it, adding that his brother’s words will remain in his memory for the rest of his life, to remind him of his people and his homeland.