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The Fleeting Nature of Life: A Reflection on Parenthood and Presence

The news of a parent's death is jarring. Today I was hit with that overwhelming feeling, not for my own parent, but for another parent just like me.

This morning at the school drop-off, an unexpected sight took me aback. One of the school dads was wearing a smart suit. His young son sat sweetly perched upon his broad shoulders. Typically said school dad wears casual attire as suits his business. So cheerfully and curiously, I greeted him with a beaming smile and said, “You’re all dressed up. Where are you off to today?”

My biased assumption was that he had a big corporate meeting or was off to close on a significant business deal. His response, however, was far from what I had anticipated. “I’m off to X’s funeral,” he solemnly replied. Shocked and confused, I asked, “Who?” My jaw dropped in disbelief as he briefly told me details of the tragic news. The dad who had passed away had been one of our class parents.

Most of the day, I replayed scenes in my head of seeing the late dad with his kids at school drop-offs and pick-ups, at class birthday parties or walking with his youngest son at the beach on occasion. We were not close, but we knew each other as part of the community of class parents. I thought of his children and the gaping void left in their lives. And I wept as I thought how fickle life is, and I contemplated, “What’s the point of all this?”

Later that afternoon, when I picked up my children from school, I listened to them more attentively. My senses were heightened. I noticed the vivid beauty of pink flowers blossoming upon otherwise bare trees. I saw and appreciated the presence of life. I was present. I cherished every moment much more.

In the evening, I debriefed with my husband and poised the question I had pondered all day:

Is death the greatest plight of our human existence? Or is it the best thing about life?

I think it’s the latter if we learn to embrace life more fully and accept death without resisting the inevitable. Because it is futile to resist what is. Welcome it with open arms because it is our freedom to live life more fully.

Dr. Masi

Disclaimer: The content in this blog and related posts is for informational purposes only and not medical advice. Views expressed are those of Dr. Masi Njawaya and Herself Health and not any official organisation. Consult a healthcare professional for personalised advice. Use this information at your own risk.

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