Midge started her career in PR writing at seventeen when she began drafting documentaries for a government-run television station in the Philippines. Since then, she made a career in advertising and public relations which ended earlier this year. These days, she works for a corporate governance advocacy in Makati.
Aside from what she does for a living and her poetry, she has turned her home kitchen into a personal culinary lab and is currently working on another novel.
I was never really keen on Halloween; at least, not in the American context that involves gory scare-fests in the form of horror films or television shows. In which case, I’m also none too fond of the American contexts regarding death and the afterlife.
People nowadays have this fascination with death for all the wrong reasons. Horror franchises play on multiplexes across the globe regardless of season. Vampirism and lycanthropy have been romanticised: made fascinating, tempting in an erotic fashion. The dead are seen as evil and that death itself is the beginning of goodness knows how many macabre scenarios in modern popular literature and culture. (I’m looking at you, The Walking Dead.)
We frighten ourselves with even the barest hints that we are but mortal. We freak out over the symptoms we read about from spurious “health” sites; we become paranoid about going out lest an accident or some unsavoury element ends us all of a sudden. Whenever loved ones are on their deathbeds, we scream and cry and wail and bargain with the Grim Reaper that they may not be taken.
Death remains, alas, the biggest taboo for civilised humanity. It is something to be feared, dreaded, and even loathed. But, in reality, death is a natural thing – a beautiful thing, if one would only take the time to put things into their proper perspective. A classic prayer among Catholics begins thus:
Lord, help us to see death for what it really is: The end of poverty and the beginning of riches; The end of frustration and the beginning of fulfillment; The end of fear and the beginning of tranquility; The end of pain and the beginning of joy; The end of weakness and the beginning of strength.
To understand death, in my personal opinion, is to actually celebrate life. To consider and appreciate what we have; to remember those who went before us; to honour their wisdom and kindness; to know – and to most certainly accept – that we too, one day, will close our eyes a final time and embrace a life beyond the frailty and imperfection of our mortal bodies.
We in the Philippines celebrate the lives of those who have passed on by way of annual graveside visits on All Saints’ Day, as they do in Mexico (la Dia de los Muertos.) We remember our loved ones with prayer and music; family reunions and flowers; good eating and the sharing of memories of a time long past. It is not the gory slashfest of the west, but more of a celebration of lives well-lived, time well-spent. It is a time of remembrance that also serves to remind us of one of the most fundamental truths of life. It is a time when we must face up to the reality that, for those who have gone ahead, pain does have an ending – and so do suffering, grief, and loneliness.
Death is not the province of bugbears and monsters. It is not something with which to frighten young children or the emotionally susceptible. It is a reality that we all must face eventually – and one we can bravely face with faith, hope, and a quiet acceptance – and the truth that we will be reunited with those whom we have lost.
Let not grief overwhelm us, or a sense of loss embitter us. But out of our sadness let there arise a new joy for so much given to us. Cast out our fears and let not our hearts be troubled. Let Your spirit of peace come alive within our experience and hurt, our sorrow and isolation, our sadness today and loneliness tomorrow.