Like a falling tree in an empty forest, epitaphs are not heard by those they honor. This occurred to me while I recently sat attending services designed to comfort a grieving family. My being there in support reminded me not only of how brief life is, but also how we live writes the words for our individual epitaphs. The lesson? Live with the end in mind.
What is it about a person’s death that brings out the kindest words in another? In most countries, it is still considered disrespectful to speak ill of the dead. It is respect for the surviving loved ones, as they now have to navigate life differently. Yet is it not more disrespectful to speak admiration only on occasion of someone’s death? Either way, there will be no rebuttal nor response from the deceased. Like a teacup, words fill when there is a container to receive them. Epitaphs then etch the empty cup of the life that once filled it.
Death has a way of putting all things into perspective. When my Aunt Sarah passed away earlier this summer at 107 (please see “Steeped In Tradition”), there was a general consensus that her years spoke eloquently for her. Conversely, Dwight Arrington “Heavy D” Myers’ unexpected passing at 44 drew worldwide attention to a man who distinguished himself not only in how he performed onstage but also in how he treated people off stage.
Both shared a joy for living and the ability to make people love them without sacrificing their individuality. Additionally, both Aunt Sarah and Heavy D managed to dance — well — without seeming to care whether or not others thought it possible. Different cups, both etched in the minds and memories of those who knew and interacted with them.
When a loose tea leaf encounters hot water, a wondrous metamorphosis occurs. Watching the activity inside a glass teapot, the tightly-rolled tea leaves appear to dance, to spiral, and to unfurl while gracefully descending towards the teapot’s bottom. This process is known as the “agony of the leaf” where the leaf seemingly wrestles then releases everything before finally resting.
All the tea has endured to that point, e.g. withering, rolling, drying, etc., ends in all the tea’s unique nuances being released. After all, that is the tea’s purpose. Without the tea leaves surrendering its flavor, the entire production means little. It is what the tea leaves behind (aroma, taste, mouth feel) which creates a liquid epitaph.
Of course, tea has no ears. If it did, then it would hear this: Cups up! Drink Tea.
- Loving Cups – Tea and Friendship (straightfromtheleaf.wordpress.com)