Category Archives: On Death & Dying

Dealing with Death, Feelings Associated with Death

My Father-in-Law’s Final Wishes, Finally, Fulfilled

Fulfilling a dream of his late father-in-law, translated…

My father-in-law had always been an enigma to me, he’d never told us anything about his past, we only knew, that he was from a well-rounded family in Shaoxing, Zhejiang, and started working as a sailor when he was only eighteen, nineteen years of age, and followed that merchant ship to Taiwan at age twenty, and, never went back home again.

He had kept the diaries for long, but, never allowed us to read them, he’d told, “I’m not writing a diary, just whatever that came to my mind, I’d jotted it down, if you’re interested about my past, then, you can read it, after I’m a hundred.”  After he’d passed, as I’d helped sorted through his belongings, I’d, read through the more than twenty volumes of diaries my late father-in-law had, kept, mostly were the nitty-gritty of goings on in life, but, there was this, light blue notebook, on the first page, it’d had the historical pickle farm in his ancestral home in Shaoxing, with the names of all of his siblings, and he’d told of how his life in Taiwan wasn’t what he’d expected it to be, but, he’d refused to go back, due to how tough he was.

a notebook like this…

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with everything about his past written down on record by him, for his offspring to find…

Because there’s no record of which pickle farm, we’d searched online, and found there were, several, but, there’s only one farm with the owners being, Chen, “the Chien-Yu Pickle Farm”, and, at its prime, it was, the historical pickle farm in all of China.  At that very moment, I’d, written to the Shaoxing Province connection here in Taiwan, hoped that they can help us find my father-in-law’s ancestral home, at the same time, if there are still living relatives of his there.  Not long thereafter, the letter from the Chinese local governments told us, that my father-in-law’s eldest brother is still alive, but he’s in a vegetative state, bedridden through the ages, and there were, five cousins, and his youngest aunt who’s still living.

At the end of 2011,my wife and I accompanied my mother-in-law to my father-in-law’s place of origin, Shaoxing, at the same time, we’d also gone to visit my wife’s eldest uncle who’s bedridden.  During the visit, my mother-in-law whispered in her eldest brother-in-law’s ears, “I’m the wife of Rong Hong, we had come home to visit you.”, and, everybody who was there, saw that our eldest uncle who’d been in a vegetative state, with tears coming from his eyes.

Two days after we’d returned back to Taiwan, my wife’s older female cousin called to tell, that eldest uncle is gone, that he was in peace when he passed.

And so, this elderly man is, waiting for that word of his loved one who’d come to Taiwan, and, he’d, finally gotten what he was waiting for, as he’d, passed away in peace, and, the family had, helped fulfilled the older generation’s dreams of returning home to visit his own kin.

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Filed under Family Matters, Life, On Death & Dying, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, the Finality of Life

What Death, Had, Turned, You, into…

This is what death, had, turned you, into, nothing!

That’s just it, isn’t it, we all, become, absolutely, NOTHING, after death takes us over.  That, is the way it is, isn’t it???

What death, had, turned, you into, nothing more, than a, bad dream I’d finally waken up out of, and from, and I shall, never again, get, back into, that state, of living in that, nightmare again (thank god, uh, as if, He, existed???).

photo from online

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What death had, turned, you into, nothing more than, dusts, and bones, and I’m, spreading you out, over everywhere we used to, love to, go, that patch where you loved, lying beneath for your, afternoon nap, and that patch of our garden, when you loved, digging into, to find the bugs, the grubs…

What death had, turned, you into?  Absolutely, N-O-T-H-I-N-G, for I had, already, mourned, fully AND completely (not to mention!), for these, losses of my own life, and so, death did NOT turn you, into, anything, and you shall, remain, NOTHING, to me, and that, is that!

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Filed under Life, On Death & Dying, Perspectives, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, the Finality of Life

Raising the Silkworms

The death, of that, whole “hoard” of, silkworms, and the teacher killed them!  A lesson, taught by nature, to this, science teacher of the elementary school years, translated…

Growing up, there were the dogs we kept, as guards of home, they ate, what we all ate, nothing special.

Back in the early 2000s, I’d started working as a science teacher in the elementary school years, the publishers of textbooks put out the silkworms for the children to raise, and mixed that into the lessons in science.  The children then became, nannies, raised their silkworms by the book, finished the lessons.  On the Memorial Day long weekends, leaving the silkworms in school, a few days of not having anyone to watch them, they may die; thought about giving the silkworms to my students, and, naturally, that would, give their parents, the troubles, I’d thought, that I was a science teacher, and I needed to experience what it’s like personally, to keep and raise the silkworms, and besides, I was, curious, how is keeping silkworms, different than keeping cats and dogs.

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we use to go to the school shop, and pick a box up for $10N.T.s, and keep it for our science lessons…photo from online

And so, I’d, taken the whole bunch home with me, and, I’d, taken the advantage, of going to the graves to make the offerings, to pluck some mulberry leaves for the silkworms.  But, they’d, all died, and I’d become, a total, executioner.

I’d looked deeper, into the cause of their deaths, and found, that the leaves only, looked like the mulberry leaves, that they weren’t, actually, and, I’d, thought, that the silkworms could eat it, and not have any troubles.  I’d returned back to class, emptyhanded.  The students inquired, “where are the silkworms?” I’d, confessed to them, shamefully, “They all, went to, heaven”, the students started mourning, and I’d, used the opportunity to teach them, to discuss with them, the fragility of life, along with how to adjust our selves, to traumas.

The lesson of the “silkworm incident” taught me one thing, and, afterwards, I’d not, relaxed, one bit, as a, school teacher.

So, this, is the hard-learned lessons, taught by a creature of nature to you, as a, science instructor, and you’d, learned THAT lesson well too, so, you won’t, have to, face the, collective deaths of, the “science project” of the entire class…

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Filed under "Professional" Opinions, Death by Negligence, Lessons, Life, On Death & Dying, Perspectives, Properties of Life

Days Spent with Her

These are the lessons, this mother taught to her daughter, with her, entire life, and the daughter, carried all of the values taught to her by her mother, away, translated…

I Never Dared Made a Complaint about My Mother, Because for a Woman, Her Level of Persistence, of Tolerance, Her Strong Will, Already, Exceeded What Most People Can Take…………

Even Though We were Not Rich, But Our Minds Were, Wealthy

The scenes of my childhood years, they’re, still, lucid in my mind like it was, yesterday, I can’t forget them, even if I wanted to.

Before my middle school exit exams, the children my age had already gone to rest in bed after they bathed, while I, just arrived home, from hauling all the shipments, and I’d started, working the handiworks.  I wanted to make more, but, I had my sectional exam the following day, and I’d felt, ill-at-ease about it, my mother saw my hesitation too, and couldn’t make me stay up to work.  Although, she couldn’t have the heart to make me stay up to work, but, raising six children in the countryside, the economic burdens, surely, crushed down hard.  Finally, I’d, made it to eleven in the evening, my mother announced the end of the “workday” for us, and rushed me upstairs to study.

Every night as the night settled down, I couldn’t help but feel uneven, “Why is it, that we are eating the same foods, but, with such, different fates?”, but I’d never dared, complained about my mother, because, for a woman, her persisting will is, already, way more than the average already; during the daytime when I was out studying in school, my mother with the sun heating down on her, alongside the men, carried the heavy shipments on her shoulders, and at nighttime, she’d, brought home the handiworks, and worked the household chores.  Having a mother who works her hardest, what would I, have to, complain about?  So I’d, prodded open my heavy eyelids, and my fatigued, body, studied until two, three in the mornings, in the countryside at this time, all fell, silent, because everything is, asleep, and yet, I’d heard, that rhythmic, rustling from downstairs, and I was, driven by my curiosity, I’d gone to take a look.  What I saw, made my heart wrenched, and, the scene, etched, deep, into my heart, it was my mother, doing the handiworks without us downstairs.

The days I’d lived with my mother, we were, living in the hard times, but, my heart and soul were, enriched.  My mother worried that we didn’t have enough nutrition, she would pick some wild Burmann sundew, and fried them with the eggs for us.  The smell of the plant is quite strong, and quite rancid too but the nutritional values are high.  From when I was younger, I’d, rammed around out, and I’d needed to get my clothes patched up quite a lot, my mother told me, “there’s no shame in having the patches, but it’s, awful if your clothes are dirty and you still wear it.”, such philosophical words.

illustration from UDN.com

圖/黑耳

What I’d missed about my mother, is also, the tastes of the yogurt drinks too, as I’d run the shipments on the weekends, to help us get rid of the heat, my mother would freeze the plastic bottles of the yogurt drinks; the tiny bottles of Yokult, due to being frozen, tasted, especially good, and every time as we’d, peeled back the plastic bottles, we got to, taste the coolness again, and again, and again, that taste, filled up the simpler, childhood years, how easily we were, all satisfied then.

The Year I’d Entered into College, My Mother Fell Ill

I’d also loved spending the holidays in the countryside with my mother, in the fast changes of what’s traditional and what’s modern, my mother’s simple and gentle heart could, always, settle my too young, too unsettled, mind and heart.  The midnights of before the Chinese New Year’s, she would carry the offerings and the vegetables, the fruits too, and, made the offerings to the God who ruled the heavens.  As midnight came, with the sounds of firecrackers crackling, breaking the silence through the skies, the wish-wells from all around, brought in the brand new year of hope.

Compared to the rowdiness of the New Year’s, Chinese Lover’s Day felt, quieter.  As during that day of every year, there would always be rain, and my mother told us, that it’s related to the local legends, “these were the tears of the lovers who met up in the skies, and the bulbul that brought the wrong messages to them, would keep out of sight during this day of the year too.”  And it’s, quite odd too, I don’t remember seeing any bulbuls at this day.  While, the traditions that intrigued me on this holiday is the water in the basin for the lady lover, after three offerings, the kids would fight to wash their faces in the basins, because my mother told us, “boys who used the water to wash their faces will turn handsome, and girls, become pretty”.

The year I’d entered into college, my mother fell ill, and, it took her away, from her, short and hard life.  On the day she’d died, I was about to take my sectional exams, I’d carried the “Essay Selections”, and had her leaned in on my shoulders to rest————the cancer that’s tried my mother so, caused her to not be able to lie down flat, as she lay herself down, she’d started not getting enough air in, and started breathing, heavily.  But that evening, she’d, fallen asleep, soundly, I’d felt happy at first, not known that it was because she’d fallen, unconscious, that she’d, leaned onto me.

As I’d found that something wasn’t right, I’d, immediately rang the emergency bell, the resident on duty, the nurses rushed over immediately, and yet, as my mother had, fallen limp on me, the paramedics can only, wheel us both into the resuscitation room, and thankfully, after the shots of adrenaline in her heart, the measures, she’d regained, her consciousness, asked me for pen and paper, and, wrote with all her might, “go back to school to take your exam.”

That’s how my mother was, always thought about others, and even as she was being tried, in those, final moments of her painful life, she’d still, not changed her kindness toward me.  I’d thought about what Shih Hu wrote in “The Self at 40”: “if I can forgive others, understand others, it all goes to how well my mother had, taught me.  As for my mother, she’d, made me humbler in the faces of everything else in life, to treat everything around me, with, kindness.

And so, this woman had, given her whole life, to her families, without asking for anything in return, and, it’s her attitude, her kindness, her values that were, passed down to her daughter, that she’s, carried, after the mother passed away.  That, is the strong good influence of a parent, to a child.

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Filed under Lessons, Life, On Death & Dying, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, the Finality of Life

Decisions

The decisions to stop treatment, or to, continue it, weighing the pros and cons of it, over, over, and over again, in our minds, and, we can only pray that in the end, we’d, made the, right choices by our loved ones.

Upon reading Marcie’s “Difficult Choice” on August 25th, I was moved, this hard-to-master lesson of life, is, harder to solve than the, mathematical, equations.

I was forty-two on the year, thought of how at age forty-two, my father caught me, who let out the very first cries of my life, and how time flew quickly by, turned all our hairs white, made him hunched in the back, and, eroded away, his aging, skins.  I’d squatted down, helplessly, in the hallways of the hospital, with my arms around my knees, I’d, broken down and cried.  The sun still radiant outside, while my world had, crumbled down, no longer, is it, a full-circle again.

this…

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photo from online

After the marrow was extracted, the biopsies on his liver done, I’d, pushed him back to his ward.  “Ouch!” that was the only word he’d, mumbled aloud after he came to, following that, he’d, drifted into that cycle of, never-ending, eternal, waking and sleeping.

The eyes behind the glasses, with that genuineness about it, said, “sir is too elderly and too weakened in physical strengths, I’m afraid, that he won’t able to get through the chemotherapy or the surgeries, you and your families must make up your minds, don’t leave the regrets for tomorrow, the patients are in pain, the families, in even more, pain.”  The young resident stated these words, that, made my heart twisted up even tighter, can it, not be, a “multiple choice” question?

Three years ago, my eldest uncle fell seriously ill, my older cousins couldn’t let him go, his life was, spared, but, he was kept alive, with all those, tubes going in and out of his body, it’d, made the families, relatives, and friends wondered, can we, tie him down with love, to save his body, because we don’t want him to go?  Then, two months later, he’d gone, and, my older cousin kneeled down in front of the altar, and cried like hell, and blamed himself for making the wrong decisions to save his own father then, that he shouldn’t have, put his own father through those two more months’ worth of, trials in the body.

AS my younger brother heard the surgeon’s statements, he’d exclaimed aloud, “of course, SAVE him!”  “my father’s a military man, he would NOT want to live on like this, I want to save him too, but, as his daughter, I know I can’t be, so, selfish”, I’d, finally, got those, words out, and after that, my heart had a hole in it.  My youngest sister cried, shook her head, and waved her hands no too, she was, my father’s, favorite, youngest child, it’s, simply, too difficult, for her, to voice her thought on the matter.

or this…

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saying their, final, goodbyes…and letting go…photo from online

I’d, pushed that hospital bed, with all his belongings, took him to the hospice ward.  It is, very hard to describe what it’s like in there, there are the hopes and expectations of getting out one day on all the other, floors, while here, the patients are, walking, a step closer to death by the day, but it’s, not just that.

As we entered into the hospice, my crying, stopped, the sorrows are, all over the places, but my father looked, more at peace, and, as he woke, he’d said, apologetically to me, “it’d been trying on you”.  my foolish dad, can you, breathe, a bit longer, so, your children can, hold you in their arms, longer, so I can, be a daughter, with a father still?

After a full month in the hospice, I took dad home.  In the company of his children and grandchildren, without those tubes going in and out of his body that made his life even harder, he’d gained, an, extra month, two days after Father’s Day, he’d selected to, fall, into, that eternal, sleep, and thus, our, scents of, missing him, started, rooting downward.

So this would be, one of the, hardest decisions that someone is forced to make, to save the loved ones or to just, let them go, I mean, there’s, a lot to, consider in the matter, are you, willing to, try your loved ones longer, just so you can have them with you longer, or, would you be willing to, say your, goodbyes to them, and, leaving, no love unsaid, and, just, let them go?

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Filed under Choices, Cost of Living, Do-Not-Resuscitate, Life, On Death & Dying, Properties of Life, Right to Die, Right to Life, the Finality of Life

The Confessions of Fresh Flowers, a Poem

What’s left behind, after death???  Translated…

As the Skies Darkened, the Water Grew, Quieter

The Moon Hid Behind the Clouds, the Hardhacks, the Frisee

Not Leaving the Reins, from the Other End of the Ancient Trek

Life is Being Passed Around, the Roots, the Flowers, Parting with the Pains & Sorrows of Breaking

Jade, Fallen & Cracked, Worthless

The Jade Will be Naught in the Owner’s Memories

like this, withered away, and died…photo from online

The Jade Will Keep Filling the Lives, but the Lives

Already, Gone-Away

The Fresh Flowers Confessing Now

All the Kisses are Now, Memories

Those Bundled Up Tears

Lay on the Riverbeds, the Leaves

Blocking the Light Away

The Horse, Chewed on the Flowers

As the Skies, Darkened Down

And so, this is, how everything ends, becoming, nothing, because that, is how it goes, we came here with nothing, and we don’t take anything with us when we go…

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Final Rites

How she wanted it done, the belief of this, elderly woman…translated…

I don’t live with my mother, but, her registry is with my home, and as I received the notices for the elderly population to get vaccinated, I’d immediately called her up.  But my mother started, leisurely telling me how she wanted her final affairs to go, as I clenched onto the phones, I’d felt, sorrowful, and started, crying.

My mother told, that all her three children are all grown and married, with six grandchildren, that she was, more than satisfied with her time here on earth in this life, that she had, no regrets, and told me a list of possible symptoms of the vaccination, that if she’d died, it shall be fate’s doing!

From before, the subject of death was tabooed between us mother and daughter, actually, I’d wanted to, discuss this matter with my mother, like how she’d planned to have her funeral set up?  But as the words about to flowed out, I’d, taken a deep inhale and take it all back in, worried that it might be, bad luck, mentioning it, that these, unlucky things, we should, avoid from, discussing.

illustration from UDN.com

圖/林蔡鴻

But because of the Astra-Zeneca vaccinations this time, my mother struck up this conversation about death, and told that if she’d died, it would be, just as well, at least, she’d not had any illness, no need to get tortured by a progressive condition, that in the end, we all, must, go; she’d told us to not feel sad in the end, and reminded me, “after I die, don’t take the money offerings from the white envelopes.”

Awhile ago, I’d heard my older brother carefully prodded my mother, “if many, many years from now, when you depart, how would you want your funeral to go?  Do you want it to have a ton of people coming, to see you off?  Or, would you prefer it simpler, to not bother others?  How much paper money offerings should we make?  What sort of music do you want played?  Do you want us to give you a mansion made with paper?”, my mother’s replies back to my older brother was, “Whatever you want!”, but added, “after I’m gone, do NOT take the money in the white envelopes from people”, she was, so steady in her tone of voice, even right now.

My mother married at twenty-two lost my father at age forty-nine.  My parents were the description of “couple living in poverty”, but not to the point of them, living miserably through their lives, mostly, they’d gotten upset over some minor things, argued on the unimportant matters of their lives; but, they’d, spatted over how much money to give to the weddings and funerals for over two decades’ time.

Since I could recall, several times I’d stayed hidden at the corners of the walls of my home, watched my mother cried as she’d fought with my father; several times, I’d, hidden myself underneath the covers, with my father’s loud voice getting into my ears.  My parents argued unstop, my father insisted on putting the same amount like the rest of our relatives, worried that if he’d given less, then, it wouldn’t, be right; while my mother worried that if he’d put the extra amounts in, she wouldn’t have enough for the groceries, that it would affect our livelihoods, and the arguments passed between the two of them constantly.  And finally, they’d, patched things up and after a while, the wedding notices, the funeral notices came, and, like a bomb, it’d, blew up in our faces again, they started back up arguing again, and they’d even, brought out the old matters from before too, and gotten at each other’s, throats.

Toward the sudden-coming wedding and funeral notices, it’d worried my mother so, sometimes, she’d, taken out the loans, sometimes, she’d, followed the groups, mixed, matched.  And the points in her memories of receiving the funeral and wedding notices, stayed, clear in my mother’s, mind.  Even as she’s an elderly person, she’s still, stressed about this matter.  And now, as the outbreaks occurred, she’d brought up the discussion of her final affairs, how she wanted it handled that she’d never done before with us, and told us, to NOT take the money offerings from the white envelopes, to cause trials in others’, lives.  On my end of the line, I’d, started crying, reason being I’d felt a ton of emotions, and the memories came back, one of the points was how I’d felt moved by my mother’s gentle heart—how she is able to empathize, to use her own personal experiences to understand the trials of others in life.

what her mother didn’t want…

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photo from online

Mom, I shall remember your words, and, as I grow older, I want to do just like you, on my funerals many, many, many years from now, I won’t be, taking any money for condolences either.

And so, this, is this older generation’s considerations of others, because the elder grew up in trying times, in poverty, and lived through how it was when the family didn’t have enough to get by, and she’d, gained that empathy toward others because of it, and, she’d, passed the values down to her own children too.

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Betrayed, by Her Death

He was, betrayed by her death (uh, as if she had a choice???), she was, supposed to be his one and only, and, he’d not, planned, to share her with anyone, or anything, death, included!

And yet, death got its, filthy hand on her, way before he ever could touch her…

Betrayed by her death, he’d felt, cheated, by her, but not by death, ‘cuz, that’s, the only way he has, of, preventing himself from feeling the guilt, so yeah, he’d, blamed her for it, when it wasn’t, even her fault!

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coming to collect, no, to CLAIM, your souls!!! Image from online

Betrayed by her death, that, is how it goes, isn’t it, with the living, blaming the D-E-A-D for leaving behind, all those things not said yet, all those, love not yet had, along with, those, never-ending, miles of, regrets that, paved that way…

Betrayed by her death, he was, abandoned as a young child, by his own mother, because she couldn’t give him a good life, so, she’d, given him up, and, not a day goes by, that she’d not, regretted that one choice she’d made from way back when.  And that, would be, two wishes, never fulfilled, because, now she’s, dead, and, so many things he wanted to say to her, the I love you, the how could you do this to me, the I hate you!

All of that, got lost, because he is, ultimately, betrayed, by her death, and, there’s, no closure for him ever………

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Filed under Awareness, Life, Loss, On Death & Dying, Perspectives, Properties of Life

Setting Down into the West, a Poem

What is left, after life is, over, and death, settles in???  Translated…

Lined Up in the Distance, Like Those

Wandering Souls, without Any Gender Specifications Anymore

The Exchanges of Words, with the Unified Pronunciations, Grammar

The Weather’s Exactly Like So, the Setting Sun Too

Fermenting the Wines in the Brain Cells

If I’d Known Earlier, that This Was How Time Works

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where we all, eventually, end up! Photo from online

A Lot of Tears, a Lot of My Sorrows

The Past Can be Birthed Out without Pains

At the End of the Sunset, Reproducing Another Sun-Shining Bright

Version of My, Brand New Self

Many Years Later I’d Turned Back Once More

The Eyes, No Longer Burned Me

Those Unsaid, and Those, Missed-Out-on, Flowed

Along, Away, Like the Waters

The Springtime Too, Only Lowered its Head to Inquire

Of that Year’s, Willow that’s, Bent by the Wind

Waiting Until the Wind Gently Grazed Across the Shores

That Slowly Covered, Vanishing Name & Reputation

The Echoes No Longer Heard from the Distance

Only that Rising Smoke Now, the Chants that Came & Went

Soaring Through the Night Skies Like that Star

And so, this, is what life became, after death, absolutely, NOTHING, we don’t take anything, not even our skins and bones when we depart, so, it makes us wonder what is it that we’re, fighting for, and what sort of a legacy we want to leave behind???

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Filed under Awareness, Life, On Death & Dying, Philosophies of Life, Poetry, Properties of Life, the Finality of Life

Holding on, to a Life that’s, Already, Gone…

Funny (not to mention WEIRD!), how those, souls go, holding on, to a life that’s, already, gone, allowing, those memories of their pasts, to haunt us.

Holding on, to a life that’s, already, gone, that, is how the DEAD, won’t let go of the living, the DEAD, hangs on tightly, like that bite of that pit bull with a DEAD WISH, never, letting go!  Holding on, to a life that’s, already, gone, why?  Why can’t they dead, just, DIE, when the bodies stopped, their, biological, functions, huh?  Why do those memories of those whom we cared too much of, still hang around?

these, earthbound, spirits, like this???

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not yet, completely, detached, from her, body there…photo from online

Holding on, to a life that’s, already, gone, why?  I mean, why can’t you, just, move on?  ‘Cuz of, all those regrets that surfaced up to your mind right before you died?  Was that it?  Well, it’s too late, you’re, already D-E-A-D, like it or don’t, your life, it no longer, wanted you, NO (and your point being???) more!

And as you lay dying…well, it’s, over, ‘cuz in, three-two-one you’re, D-E-A-D!

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