The dead of winter

These cold January days are equivalent to midnight, we are in the heart of winter. Nature sleeps breathless. Everything lies either rotting or frozen, depending on the weather. On a personal level, death is around too. Both my mother and one of my grandfathers died this time of year, so I often find myself thinking of them. It also takes me back to the person I was and the beliefs I had at the time. Of course I’m very much alive but like a tree, certain branches have been torn off by the winds of life. New branches of me have grown in unexpected directions.
I realised that a substantial part of my conversion to Christianity had to do with not wanting death to be the final answer. But I no longer feel the need to conquer death. We will probably never be friends, but he does not scare me as much as he used to. A conversation with a couple of Jehovah’s witnesses a few months ago made me realise that. Very little people ever speak of their religion in my surroundings, so I enjoy talking to them whenever they come by. The day they came by was a lovely autumn day, sunny and warm, so the front door garden still looked good. I talked pleasantly with them by the door for a while. Of course they have a clear and specific purpose with these conversations, but I do not mind that. They admired the garden and they started talking about the beauty of creation. But also what a shame it was that everything in creation was broken in a way and sure to die. I said I did not mind that. ‘But what about your loved ones?’ I thought about that for a while and answered ‘no’. Of course, I would be heartbroken if my husband or children were to die. I would be very sad if an older family member passed on. But as I talked to them I felt I had come to terms with death as a necessary part of life. Good times, relationships and love do not lessen in value because they are temporary. They become even more precious in the awareness of limited time. Once people have passed on into the unknown, their lives do not cease to have meaning. We live today because of the efforts and love of others. And the moments and love we shared, did happen. That alone should suffice in giving them meaning.
When the witnesses had left, I found myself wondering whether I had meant what I had said. Had I finally said goodbye to the notion that there had to be a definite purpose to it all, or was life and therefore change itself indeed the end of all that lived? Life ever new, ever dying and re-emerging, not just on this earth but far beyond with stars being born, burning up and fading out all across the universe as we speak. ‘Yes’, it answered in me. It felt good and honest to admit death his place in the scheme of things.


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