That we shall die we know; ‘tis but the time
And drawing days out, that men stand upon.
– Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1
It is indeed true that when your time is up it is all but up. Death, that great equaliser, comes to us all but we cannot see any patterns nor can we make any predictions. It seems so random and arbitrary. Why do some live to see another day, and others are shuffled from this mortal coil to the realms of the immortals?
In Islam there is a common saying: if you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening. Such is the understanding for Muslims as to how close we always are to our own earthly demise.
I recently came across two examples that illustrate this so vividly. Both occurred within a day of each other.
Danny and Funchu
The first example is that of 101 year old Funchu Tamang, a Nepalese man who was pulled out alive after being trapped under rubble caused by the recent earthquake in Nepal. Tamang was found on Saturday 2nd May 2015, seven days after his house collapsed. He suffered only minor injuries and was airlifted to a district hospital, with his condition being described as “stable”.
Police had initially said that Tamang was trapped under the rubble of his home ever since the quake struck on 25th April, but they later said he was in fact rescued from his garden where he had been sheltering since the disaster. Either way, a remarkable escape.
The other example is that of 29 year old Danny Jones, a rugby player for the Keighley Cougars and for Wales. Jones died on Sunday 3rd May 2015 (one day after Tamang was found alive) after suffering a cardiac arrest during a rugby game. He was a married father of 5 month old twins.
A statement from the Keighley Cougars said: “He was the life and soul in the dressing room, a natural leader, a true professional and irreplaceable.”
Jones scored in excess of 1000 points in 150 appearances for Keighley and won 12 caps for Wales, making his debut against Italy in Wrexham in 2010.
These two examples are indeed a study in extremes: you have a young, healthy, strong rugby player who suddenly dies without any notice or indication. This is someone you would expect to live a long and healthy life.
You also have a centenarian who managed to survive through an earthquake that registered 7.8 on the Richter scale, Nepal’s worst since 1934, and then continued to live unaided for several days before being found in a “stable” condition.
Just goes to show that when your time is up…
Here are a few more thoughts on the happy cheery subject of death:
- If I died and went straight to hell, it would take me a week to realise I wasn’t at work anymore. – Anon
- After you die it is believed that you have 7 minutes of brain activity left inside you, and in those 7 minutes you experience your entire life over, in a kind of dream, because in a dream time feels stretched. So if this is the case then what if right now you’re in those 7 minutes? How do you know if at this very moment you’re alive or just reliving old memories? – Anon
- Life asked Death: “Why do people love me but hate you?” Death responded: “Because you are beautiful lie and I am a painful truth.” – Anon
- People fear death even more than pain. It’s strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over. – Jim Morrison
- Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace. – Oscar Wilde, from his book The Canterville Ghost