I’m posting a disclaimer right here that this post will probably be long and rambling and possibly strange. Everyone hits a spot in their lives, some point in or soon after their early twenties where they realize they’re not invincible but in fact mortal like everybody else. For me though, this wasn’t a real turning point or anything of that sort where it came to death. This might stem from the fact that as a practicing Muslim I’m always reading about and thinking about death and prepping for it and life after it quite a bit, maybe?
The turning point came when we’d just moved to this apartment, about five years ago. It was within the first month that I heard of a horrific traffic accident where two pedestrians, young girls in their late teens, died in a rather gruesome way. I was bummed of course but it got worse when I found out that one was related distantly to a friend of mine. I found out all these random facts about her – she was like any other 17 year old, and I couldn’t stop thinking about her.
A couple of years later, I lost my mom’s brother rather suddenly and his death impacted me in a big way. He’d been a giant part of my childhood and even though we were no longer in touch on a daily basis, I thought of him nearly every day after. It’s been two years and I still think of him twice or thrice a week. That’s just the kind of person he was. When I went to India, everyone I met had good things to say about him. How in their moment of need, he’d come through.
That same year I read this article about how we should be living our lives the way we want our eulogies to be read. It struck me then that my uncle had achieved that beautiful medium. He had lived in a way that made remembering him a pleasure.
And finally, a year ago when those three kids were shot to death in Chapel Hill. Their deaths really moved me, but even more so it was how beautifully they were being remembered. It was as if I’d known them personally, and I might have grieved for them harder than some people that I’d actually known. Once again it hit me that these were kids that had lived their lives in a way that they were remembered in a truly beautiful manner. They probably did it unawares but regardless there’s a lesson in it for those left behind.
And through this same time frame, alongside this journey of understanding and accepting death, because of the Islamix course that I was doing – I’d also been thinking about what kind of Islamic behavior I wanted to focus on. I thought to myself, while I do okay in all other areas, I should pick one area to try to excel at. I put a lot of thought in it and picked manners. I decided I want to have beautiful manners and I think that’s what I want to be remembered by.
It’s nice to have that sort of focus, actually.