Opinion: What all the Death in 2012 Taught Me About Life

With events like the Dark Knight Rises shooting in Aurora, Colo., or the most recent massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. – all the more tragic because it involves children – it's hard not to want to just crawl into bed with a loved one, and just wait for the so-called Apocalypse to wipe us out. But how sad would it be if all those who are meant to leave their mark on this world and prove that it's not all evil, didn't get the chance to do so?

As we head into 2013 - and I have no doubt we'll make it there, despite all this end-of-the-world talk - death remains one of humanity's greatest mysteries. I don't think we'll ever know the answer to why some people's lives are cut short while others get to live long, full lives, or why some must go tragically while others peacefully. All we know for sure is that our days are numbered. It can be a troubling, all-consuming thought, if you let it - and I certainly have.

But I'm trying to get better. Maybe one day I can be like Chavela Vargas, another legendary singer who passed away in 2012, in August, at the age of 93 in Cuernavaca, Mexico - completely unafraid of death. "I do not fear death," she said, in one of her last interviews, in the new documentary Hecho en Mexico. "It does not exist. I say to myself, 'If you were capable of being born, then you can die, in peace'... It's like a shadow that passes through you. And you're left wondering, 'who just went by?' In that moment, in that brief instant in this great, big world, that's where you discover where the soul is."

Her attitude toward death reminded me of a friend of mine, who lost her father before the birth of her son. She was especially devastated, she said, because her son would never get the chance to play with him. To help her cope, she began to meet with a medium. During one of their sessions, the medium had an important message to convey from her father. He said: "Tell her that dying is the easy part – it's like stepping into another room."

Months later, my friend would describe moments in which she felt her father around them. She described it as a peaceful feeling. He had found a way to get to know her son after all.

I'd like to think that maybe that medium was right. Maybe what happens after dying really is as simple as stepping into another room – one where perhaps there is a different kind of enlightened existence. Eternal, even - with no pain, no loss. No guns.

But for now we are here, in this room. And I can't help but think that every passing moment in that room is special in itself, not just as a ticking clock for what's next, but for what it is – and what is it if not what we make it?

Here's to making every moment count.

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