Afterlife

21 Jan

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’re probably aware that some generally sad events have been occurring around or to me recently.

I definitely make an effort to not “whine too much” or become “that” girl on social networking sites that overreacts, but it’s been a hell of  year so far. This blog is a place for me to write and think and speak, so I may as well start using it for that when I really have something I need to work out, even if it is just for myself. So to start…

I am deeply saddened by two deaths that happened within days of each other. One, of my Uncle Niem, who was the only one of the older generation of my relatives that I mildly was able to talk to, happened 2 days after I left Pittsburgh for Los Angeles. Uncle Niem was my mom’s last brother in the States. Her other brother died when I was 12 or so,  and thinking about it to this day is very hard for me, since I spent a considerable part of my childhood at his house.

The other, was the terrible death of Lisa Nguyen, whom I knew casually through other cosplayers. We spoke a bit to each other for many years, via LiveJournal, since we had mutual cosplay friends on the Internet. I met her in person for the first time when I first moved to LA, and I saw her sporadically. We had talked over twitter a lot, and only a few weeks ago, we discovered that we had applied for the same internship. We were excited that we would be working together soon, and that’s the last I heard of her. Early in the morning on my first day of school last week, I received an email from a mutual friend, informing me of the situation. I can’t bear to type it here, but if you just google her name, you’ll find the details easily enough.

I’m not really writing here to talk about details of my uncle’s death or of Lisa’s, but rather, to talk about that which scares me the most: death. Death in general is difficult for me to think about. When I think about the terror of the unknown after death, I get short of breath, I’m afraid to sleep, I remain frozen where I am until I can trick myself into not thinking about it any longer.

In my uncle’s case, death came at the end of his life, when he had lived a full life, had many children, owned a very nice Vietnamese vegetable farm, and seen most of his children married and had grandkids. In Lisa’s case, she had her life taken from her at too young an age. At my age. We shared the same last name, though not related, similar interests, and a love for weirdness and clothes. We are not the same person by any means, nor were we ever to become more than casual acquaintances, but still, it saddens and distresses me.

We are not here on this earth forever, and when I think of that, I am fearful. I am only very quasi religious so please take the rest of this post with a grain of salt.

Every day we work hard to fulfill a dream, to be happy, to go on that date, to eat at that new place, to see our friends, to have a nice party. These are simple but amazing things that we cannot really take with us when we go. No matter how much we love our friends, our family, our spouses, our pets, when death happens, we are separated, no matter what our emotions are.

We spend out whole life deciding who we will let into our life, who we will love, if we really love them, why we do. It is morose and morbid to think that all of the struggle that we go through in doing this is defaulted to separation when we die.

I’m not the first person to write down these sorts of ideas about death, and I know how common these kinds of fears are. I am ever fearful of expressing them, and after these 2 deaths, I was forced to face it a little more head on. Not completely, but a little. Writing this, as commonplace as the ideas themselves seem, is incredibly difficult for me. I’ve been waking in the middle of the night every day this month and been frozen in fear. I can’t get up, I can’t move my arms, I can’t do anything but lay in the dark and keep my eyes shut. I eventually fall back to sleep, and awake having vaguely forgotten about it until I start to get ready for bed again.

The world is an entirely scary scary place. People like me, who like silly cute things, dress weird, and have funny hair, seem to evoke the reaction in other people that we are “fearless.” Strangers call me that in an offhand way when describing how I look, and sometimes friends do, too.

The fact is, that I am scared. I have fear. I am scared of death, scared of losing people, scared of being the one lost, and scared of the nothingness. In death we can lose people, but we can also lose people in our friendships. My fear has resulted in strained friendships in the past, when I cling on too desperately or try too hard. But regardless, parting is bound to happen with all people. Many friends we make will one day have to leave to have their own life. We are humans, and must always face death, but we do our best to not think of it. What kind of person can go on living a happy life if they are constantly thinking of their death?

I want to live a happy and full life. I won’t lie to myself and say I won’t have any regrets, but I’m ready to do regrettable things too. I’m ready to try anything and be gung-ho about life. But the other side of the coin is that I cannot think about death. I am unable to. It is the void of everything that is life.

I was unable to face death head on today. I was not able to go to a funeral. I regret this, and at the same time, I know my limits.

I hope that no one will take the time to think about what is “right” or “wrong” about what I’ve written here. This is my way of dealing with it. Writing is better than doing nothing at all. I thought about not posting this for a while, but admitting to others is my way of admitting to myself, and my method of coping.

Rest in peace Uncle Niem and Lisa Nguyen.

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