Here's introducing today's guest post from Jessica Tang!
This is a story that happened when I was in grade 5. For some reason unlike the typical fifth grader who thinks about boys and cartoons, I laid in bed one night 15 years ago, wide awake with this fear that has suddenly overcome me.
One day my parents are going to die, my grandparents are going to die. And I am going to die.
It was not the part about dying that scared me the most. I was afraid of something deeper. You might be asking now what can be deeper or scarier than Death? For me, it was the thought of what would happen AFTER death that freaked me out. From some of the movies I watched, it seemed like souls would reincarnate but in doing so, they would forget everything that ever happened in their current life. They would forget about the people who they loved and loved them. That means that I, would forget everything and everyone from my life and it would be as if nothing has ever existed.
The next thought about how I may never see my parents again or even remember them after we all die left me bursting into tears. It was 2am in the morning at that time.
I remember the next thing I did was that I ran into my parents’ room, snuggled up with them, asking my dad to hold all of us tightly. It made me feel safe.
Dying itself is not the most fearful thought. I know that one day when my parents leave, I would feel a deep sense of loss, but because I would still be alive (assuming I outlive them), the memories will be left with me. The artifacts of their lives could be revisited. The memories of our time together would be preserved in photos, videos, stories that I can look at in remembrance of my parents one day when they are not physically with me anymore. Even if their physical presence were no longer, I would have other tangible items to remind me of them.
But what happens when I die too? What would happen to all our memories together then?
My deepest fear was that when I die, the memories would die with me.
I just hope that it would be a graceful passing so that those around me won’t suffer too long.
But in general, Death itself is not what scares me the most. It is losing the memories that created meaning for all that meant something to us that scared me. The very feeling of existence is rested on the ability to make meaning, personal meaning, of people, things, and experiences. Tangible monuments that documented the very existence of myself and those around me gave me a sense of safety. It is proof that we are living and will have lived. Having something tangible made the memories and meaning seem like they would last forever. Without these personal meanings and attachments, it felt like the precious moments never existed.
The thought of not having something tangible to capture the precious moments was frightening because moments are fleeting, and that is why I held onto every little thing. As a little girl, I even held onto a piece of grey hair my mom gave me of her own and kept it in a jar for two years because I did not want to forget her. To her it may have been a cute little gift, but for me it was as if it was a tangible piece of her I would have if one day she is no longer with me.
Similarly, this is why I also took a LOT of pictures. Interestingly I did not post much on social media though. But my attachment to physical “things” would extend to buying stuff that would give me a stronger sense of existence. And I would buy things for others too. Because somehow I thought a “thing” would solidify that our connection, the moment, meant something and was real.
What I realized from writing this post, from asking myself about my own views on mortality, is that nothing lasts forever. As much as we try to grasp tightly around the things and people that mean the world to us, nothing can stop the passing of time and all that goes with it. And as counter-intuitive as it may sound, it is the impermanence of things that serve as the reason why we SHOULD give love to all we have right now.
I think the best way for me to counter the deep fear of losing all that means something to me is to cherish the moments now. Living in each moment like it is the last, living as if each moment is fleeting (because it is), is how we can feel more alive and prove that we do in fact, exist. We should not hold back, because all we have is now.
A local of Vancouver Canada, Jessica Tang is a multipotentialite with different areas of interests, tied together by her passion for personal development. By day she helps people with exploring career options and her side hustle in teaching yoga and writing allow her to share life's stories with her community. Jessica's vision is to have a world where people dance in their own light while empowering others to do the same. She believes that to influence change, one must start with the self.