Memory: The Key to Eternal Life
"Death is inevitable, but the best way to fight against it is to never forget."
February 8, 2021
Death is the loss of life, the termination of life, the cessation of survival, the opposite of survival. Philosophically, death is the irreversible and permanent termination of all the properties of the living system that sustain existence.
Countless literary works about death have been written throughout history. Everyone has a different attitude towards death. Some people respect it, some people fear it, and some people do not take it seriously.
I have never faced death directly, but I do know the fear of it. Those fears are not the result of a soul-stirring experience or because of painful separations. In reality, death’s gaze does not appear dramatically. The fear of death spreads the brutal truth through the most casual details. The people around me have never left, but the thought that they might die has been enough to become a nightmare for me.
My aunt was always there with me in my childhood, and her existence is more significant than my parents’. My aunt is an unpretentious person. She is not tall, but she was always able to hold me with one arm and use the other hand to pick up something heavy, then quickly climb several stairs. She is also the sweetest adult I have ever known. Many people laugh at her for being naive. To me, she is like the last piece of pure land before the world is lost.
One day, I suddenly realized she had become older. Her knee was so badly damaged that she could no longer lift heavy objects. Once, when I followed her climbing the stairs, she had to lift one leg with trembling hands, then lift the other leg with clenched teeth. It took her fifteen minutes to cover the distance that could have been covered in three minutes. By the time she finally reached the finish line, her back was wet with sweat. Her hands were once soft and fleshy (in China we call these “rounded gold ingot hands,” after money used in ancient China), but now her hands have protruding blood vessels and blue veins. I was scared. By the time my aunt looked back, my eyes were full of tears.
After that epiphany, I thought about becoming a doctor and inventing a medicine that would make everyone live forever. I’ve thought about being a scientist and inventing technology to rejuvenate people. I’ve had a lot of ideas. Nonetheless, obviously none of them are possible.
Although I do not know how to make people live forever, I do know how to make a person never die.
There is a quote from the movie “Coco” about three definitions of death: When your heart stops beating, you are declared biologically dead. When the people around you hold your funeral, your identity is erased from the world. When the last person in the world who remembers you dies, that’s the final death for you.
For me, this passage means that even if a person leaves me forever and becomes a small black box of ashes in the cremation factory, as long as I can remember them, that person will live forever. Death is inevitable, but the best way to fight against it is to never forget.
My aunt is nearly sixty, and I don’t know how much longer she will be with me. But I know that even when I get to the end of my life, I will never have forgotten her. Now I will remember her piece by piece. My aunt likes to call me by my full name when she is angry, and call me “baby” when she is happy. Her teeth are a little yellow, but she always likes to smile by showing all the teeth, and when that happens not even her eyes can be seen. In addition, I must remember her favorite lullaby. I will sing this song to my children on sleepless nights, just like those summer days many years ago. In the future, when these melodies are heard again, the memory of my aunt will brush my face like a silk ribbon. Then I will know I have never forgotten her; hence, she has never left.
This horrible pandemic in 2020 has brought the world closer to death. Many people have chosen to sacrifice themselves to fight COVID-19. They use all their energy to love the people around them; they love the world with their lives. They are medical workers, scientific researchers, and many ordinary people. Even though they know that going forward sometimes means death, they still choose that step with determination. They demonstrate the best parts of human nature.
There is no doubt that they are heroes. I believe, there will be such a beautiful city, where there is not a weed in the garden, and the spring breeze will blow through every corner of the city. In addition, in this city, there is a huge black wall with countless names. Those names belong to heroes. Their fearlessness and bravery are turned into the sharpest knives engraving their names on this wall. That city is called history, and that wall is called memory. They will live forever in peoples’ memory in the most admirable way, so they never die.
In our lives, there are so many people that need to be remembered. The best way to fight against death is to remember every moment. Death and love were never antonyms; they depend on each other and fulfill each other. They are indispensable, and together they form the key to the door of eternal life: memory.
Always keep your memories in your heart, then those people who are vital to you will never die.