This afternoon I shed some painful but quiet tears in my room.
It was painful because it hurt...a lot.
You know sometimes when you don’t see people for so long and then when you get to see them again they are a bit older, thinner, weary, and sadder and their eyes are filled with the weight of life’s burdens?
Today, I received digital photos my father had taken in the previous two months in the village. The fact is that I had not seen my parents and siblings since 2007. It may be close to three years but sometimes it feels like a 10 year absence from them.
I always imagined them as I had seen them almost three years ago but today it dawned on me that they were a bit older than the last time I had seen them. Today, they had whiter hair, thinner hands, pale and wrinkled faces. Old age was creeping up on them.
Even my father was taking photos of photographs that were old and colour faded of us when we were young. Photographs of me when I was a baby...photographs of my small sister when she was a toddler, photographs of our younger times in Goroka. He was taking the photo of the photographs because the original paper photographs were fading.
He didn’t know this but in a subtle kind of way, he reminded me of our mortality...of our place in this universe as mere mortals; Of how quickly life had passed by. As if a story of Rip Van Winkle had happened.
Yesterday, somebody told me that my classmate’s mother had died in PNG. My classmate currently lives here in Australia and I am certain that being so far away at this time of great loss is too terrible to hold. Combined with this story of his loss and then the arrival of my family’s photos, my heart strings were pulled so tight that they hurt.
This afternoon, I am reminded that this life time is as precious as it will ever be. Every single day, the clock of life ticks away. Every single day, our mortality becomes ever so clear. Life seems a bit shorter.
You know, they say that Life is too short....
Yes, it is too short to not say the things that you really want to say.
Yes, it is too short to keep quiet for the love you have for someone.
Yes, it is too short to worry about what other people will say.
Yes, it is too short to forget birthdays and anniversaries.
Yes, it is too short to be unforgiving.
Yes, it is too short to say ‘oh maybe next year’
Yes, it is too short to fight over petty things yet forget the bigger celebrations in life.
Yes, it is too short to cast aside dreams.
Yes life is too short, my friends.
And so, when someone you love so much is critically ill or is dying, nothing material matters. All the good memories come flooding back and in that single moment, you would ask God to give him or her back to you. You would forego all the material possessions, fame and fortune in the whole wide world a thousand times over, just to be with them again.
5 weeks ago