Death has for quite some time been surrounded by a cloud of mystery and suspense for me, my mind attempting to fill the huge gaps left by what knowledge we claim we possess of it. But, of course, there was a time when to me death was just an inconceivable concept and I didn’t care much for it. Not only death, but life too. Maybe that’s why when my father’s mother died when I was five years old, I didn’t contemplate too much what had happened, what it meant or, why it was so significant. It took years after my grandmother’s passing for me to unearth the lesson that major event had been trying to teach me…“ Do good and good will come to you.” When I was little, everybody in the neighborhood and family loved my grandma. She was a short, adorable lady in her late 60’s.
She had round, brown eyes, and this big bright smile. She also had this presence, this contagious positivity. She lit up the room. She was always quick to join in on a joke or contribute to the conversation. Her booming laughter is one of the few memories I have of her, like a song whose melody brings you joy even though you can’t quite remember the lyrics. Everyone was nice to grandma. I didn’t understand it back then but this was because grandma, too, was nice to everyone. I remember once I wanted to help her walk but I was too little and weak to carry her so she fell. I cried and shook like I was the one who had suffered the fall. I thought I had broken her somehow and I felt my toddler heart shatter. But there was no sign of contempt in her face. There was only a smile, warm and kind enough to make me cease crying. She may have not known it at the time, and neither did I, but that was the first time I had been taught that it’s okay to mess up sometimes. Grandma did good that day. She always did. And that’s why everyone was good to her. As I’ve come to understand, when you’re a good person you are more likely to attract good people and positive energy.
You get from the universe what you give to it. People who work in charity, non-profits, and the like will more often than not meet people with a deep gratitude and compassion for others. People who participate in “Pay It Forward” type of activities will have made someone’s day abundantly better with just a small gesture. Interactions such as these may be either brief or permanent but they are always important. So whether you believe in karma or not, just know that when you do a random act of kindness, good things happen – maybe it’s not the will of some mystic force, but simply the will of the people you’ve done right by. When grandma died, I was five. When I first cried over her death, I was twelve. We were entertaining my uncle and his wife over at our house. The room rang of chatter and laughter. It was a chilly autumn day, one of those days when it feels like it’s going to rain – but it never does. I remember sitting in my living room sofa chair, a cushy cream-colored chair that had always been my favorite place to sit. I had been listening to my mom and aunt talking when the subject of my grandma came up. How calm and caring she’d always been with others, including me. I remember my mom telling this story about how grandma always used to encourage her to be kind. “Always do the right thing. Even if people do you wrong, always remain pure at heart.
There will come a day when you will have everything you have ever dreamed of. You will have everything you deserve as long as you remain this kind.” – grandma had told her once, teary-eyed, when mom had been hurting over people not worth hurting for. Even then, grandma had preached compassion. At trying times, those are exactly the words one needs to hear. And she always knew what to say. When mom finished telling the story, I excused myself from the room and went to sit on the kitchen floor. It was a small and narrow space; it looked more like a corridor than a room. It smelled of mom’s cooking, and any other day the smell would have been comforting. But, surprisingly, it did not have a soothing effect on me that day at all. I was filled with this overwhelming sadness about someone who had been gone for seven years, someone who was gone before I could fully learn to remember. And I cried. I was suddenly that little girl that had dropped her and felt her heart break. I remembered that and I cried even more. So, there was a downpour that day. It just didn’t come from the sky. It was strange to me, that I was hurting even though years had passed.
I now see that the pain was, and still is, fresh because of the person she was and the life she lived. Because every act she performed, turned into a story to tell. Because the little girl she smiled at while the child was sobbing her heart out is now all grown up and shares that story too. People are often immortalized from those who remember and love them. People’s good deeds become the stories they leave behind, the stories told to children when they want to impose morals, the stories shared at family gatherings where nostalgia fills your heart nearly as much as love does, the stories you tell yourself when you crave the comfort of someone who can’t be there. It may have been thirteen years since my grandma’s passing but a day hasn’t passed where her memory hasn’t been honored and shared. And, as scary and mysterious as death may be, I hope that when my time comes, it will be the same for me as well. I strive every day to live a life that will impact people not only when I’m here but when I am also just a name in stories, a face in photographs. We decide how we live our lives. We can have a say on how we are remembered. Both when we are alive and when we are gone, our actions matter. So, remember, do good and good will come to you. We will inevitably leave our mark on the lives we touch; make the choice to leave an adornment – not a scar.
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