One Thing a Man Fears

The alarm sounds. You wake up. You press snooze, but you’re awake already. You stretch, yawn, and groan. It’s time for work. You brush your teeth. You go to get dressed. Then, it happens. A loud wail of a broken man echoing through the house. Startled, you freeze. Alert, you listen. You hear the gentle sobs of a man who is tired, crying out to God for relief, but there is none to be had. There is no miracle for this moment. He is in pain. He cannot stop it. It is something you and he will have to simply endure until that fateful day.

Life is… not promised. Death doesn’t care if you have nephews, nieces, children, dreams, a spouse, a dependent, a disabled love, a pet, or an elder who could die from grieving your death. The older I get, the more encounters I’ve had with it. It has taken young, old, and those in between. It even came for my head at one point in my life, but it failed, praise God.

However, the older I get, the closer I come to that frightening moment. There will come a time when death does not fail. That old man will no longer wail because he is in pain in the early hours of morning. He will not even breathe. My parents… will die. I’m terrified of that day.

Who will I become when I can no longer hear my father’s laughter? How confident will I be without my mother’s wisdom and cautions? How solid will my faith be when the most cherished believers in my life go on to be with the Lord? Everyone who has ever lost a parent has never been the same, and a lot have never fully healed. I am terrified of becoming like them.

My father used to be one of the strongest men on this earth, in my eyes. Now I see pills in orange containers stacked on the shelves of his bathroom. My mother’s youth seemed eternal. She’s considered my sister everywhere we go together. But now she’s having to have surgeries.

I am powerless to protect them. All of my perceived need of them does not prevent God from calling them home. I can’t righteously demand that God hold off His plans for them to keep them here with me. I just have to let it happen. I can’t fight.

Men are told to protect and provide from birth. There are some diseases and situations I can’t protect my loved ones from. There is no cure or solution I can provide against death. I will be powerless, forced to watch as another obituary, funeral, or saddening social media post arrives.

I have already lost one uncle. More are going to follow. I have lost all but one grandparent, and she turns 84 in two months. It is a beautiful thing to live, but forgive me for feeling it is bittersweet. We live such beautiful lives only to be buried in a grave or burned into ashes. Without the hope of the afterlife… it seems rather twisted.

Why have memories? Why remember the dead? Most of it brings sorrow, longing, and depression. Why be grateful for a life that must end? Some of us haven’t even lived great lives. For those, death seemed like an act of mercy, rather than a sorrowful end. Forgive me for feeling conflicted by it.

It is not death that I fear, but the death of those I love and cherish. I fear the days I must live without them. I hate knowing that one day I’m going to find the love of my life, live out that glorious marriage, and still have to bury her in a grave. I’m going to watch children grow into adulthood just to be taken from this world.

The reality of it came again when I started thinking about dating a woman who had several health problems. She had so many issues, I jokingly called her “Heinz 57”. As much as I joked, in the back of my mind, I wondered how much time did I have left with her. What if we fall in love, and her health problems immediately turn for the worse? I will be able to do nothing but watch and trust the Lord and His doctors. I do not look forward to these experiences.

What if I’m the one who dies? Who will have to live on without me? Did I leave enough here for people to not mourn me the rest of their lives? Did I do enough for people to be content with my passing?

I try to spend as much time with my loved ones as I can. I try to encourage people and tell them they matter and that I love them. I try to keep their heads lifted and their hearts strong, because I know one day, we might not be there for each other. One day, one of us will only be talking to a gravestone, a vase of ashes, or a spirit. It’s hard not to feel like I’m running out of time.

The point I’m trying to make is: don’t waste your time with the people you love. There is a moment in life where either you or they will be gone. Don’t let the next second pass without letting them know you love them. Don’t let the next second pass without giving them a compliment, encouraging them, or simply telling them they are on your mind.

You know exactly the person I’m talking about. Their image fills your mind as you read this. That is God letting you know you need to tell them how you feel. You need to let them know that someone is thinking of them. Don’t let fears, pain, resentment, and reluctancy stop you from humbling yourself enough to say, “Hey, I was thinking of you. I hope and pray you are doing well. Let’s talk.” Don’t let bitterness rob you of a good last memory. Don’t let anger steal the last moment you could possibly have with someone.

The last moments I’ve shared, thank God, with the loved ones who have died in my life has been positive. We weren’t cursing each other out or having animosity between us. We shared pleasantries, laughs, and smiles before the Lord called them home. Make sure you do the same before it is too late.

One of the ones I was looking forward to talking to again died in a car accident before he returned home. One week, we were complimenting each other. The next, his family was having his funeral arranged. Another friend was smiling and fighting her cancer with determination. The next week, she was home, and her sister was posting about her passing to inform everyone.

You never know when death will come. DO NOT let the last moment between you and someone you love finish with animosity. The Bible says, “…do not let the sun go down on your wrath,” and, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day will bring.”[1] Don’t be foolish in saying you’ll apologize tomorrow. Do it now. People go to sleep and never wake up every day. Don’t let your last memory with anyone be filled with hate. Cherish all people, even the ones you don’t agree with.

With appreciation,

Dario Augustus

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[1] Ephesians 4:26, Proverbs 27:1

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