A few days ago, I was returning from a funeral and pondering about the quick way a life just passes on – one minute here and the next gone. I was thinking about how a person is here and is suddenly gone away, not there any more.

Just then my car happened to be passing the airport and I watched a flight land and another take off. Suddenly it struck me – life is full of arrivals and departures.

We watch loved ones take off one day to another destination and another day we welcome another loved one come in from a different place.

The thing with departures and arrivals is that, while we receive with joy an incoming one, we stand by with some pain watching an outgoing one. We are excited and watching the skies and the boards for signs of arrival. We stand by wistfully, hoping to somehow delay a departing one.

Why is this so? Why this contrast when they are, after all, in both cases leaving one place and reaching another?

The reason is that in one case, our ranks swell, our numbers increase and there is addition; while in the other, our ranks deplete, our numbers lessen and there is indeed a subtraction! Its not that they are lost, but its just that they are not physically present with us. We know in our minds that they are indeed safe and enjoying new life, yet our hearts throb with their absence, the lack of the physical presence. We feel left behind, lost and alone, unable to share in that life.

In the case of arrivals, we are excited about the newness of it all and the way the new one will change our lives. We are physical beings and so physical presence does make great inroads into our existence here on planet earth. However, in the case of departures, often the one leaving is generally so excited and filled with the wonder of starting a new life, facing new challenges, the sights to see, the people to meet and cultivate, the new opportunities that will be available etc, that they seem to forget us who will be staying back. In fact, it may look like that they are insensitive to our pain and longing!Its not so and its indeed good that the newness will occupy them and we have to let them be so. Its that expectancy which will make them carry over the loss of our presence and help them settle in the new life. Otherwise, they will feel bereft in the new life and will not progress on!

Even so, births and deaths make an impact on the routine of day-to-day mundanity and monotony of life. There is no denying that, whether its a newborn or a demise, both stir up and cause a whirl in the steady stream of our life. In both cases, we have to adjust and realign ourselves to the change they bring. Of course, a birth is often (but not always) is preferable over a death (again most often but not always).

Yet, if we but really pause to think, contemplate and understand, we would see that the departing one is actually going to live a more fuller, more satisfying and more fulfilling life. This thought is the one that would enable us to bear with our loss, our pain and our anguish – that our loved one is in a better place, better environment and a more profitable (for them) location. In sensing and seeing their relief, release and realisation, we can lay aside our grief and carry on, waiting eagerly for us to be together again. It will be only a short time before we are reunited together.

It is this thought that would/should energize us to carry on and complete our race. May we take strength from this and of course, with the arrivals who will sweeten the remainder of our time!

Even as I write this, I can say that the family that lost its loved one is doing exactly the same. A baby in the family is proving to be the succour and the comfort that eases the pain of the absence of the departed one!

In conclusion, let me note that in an airport the departure area comes before the arrival one and even so in life!

© Sabina Tagore Immanuel

*Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash


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