Fear of oblivion


After hearing much hype about the Fault in our Stars, I finally caught the movie.

One of the scenes which struck some sensitive chords in my being was that part when the cancer support group was in session. I tell myself that for certain, death is coming for these young people. And hearing from them what they think about ‘it,’ by focusing on the here and now, interested me.

I went to its book version, skimmed to that part (this is not really tedious work since it’s just found in the first part) and was quite pleased to realize that it seemed that the movie was faithful to the book.

Let me reproduce a fragment of the conversation:

“Augustus, perhaps you’d like to share your fears with the group.”
“My fears?”
“I fear oblivion,” he said without a moment’s pause. “I fear it like the proverbial blind man who’s afraid of the dark.”

I think it’s pretty usual for someone who is in the twilight of his life to fear what Augustus is afraid of. After all, the former has accomplished a lot over the many years of his life. But the fear in Augustus’ young personhood speaks of the universal longing for everyone to be remembered, or simply, to be assured that he will not be forgotten. Not only because death is very real and it’s coming really soon, but because everyone feels that he is wired for immortality.

Just the other day, I met a priest who has already crossed the 50-year mark of the ministry. It’s awe-inspiring to note that I am not yet born and yet, he’s already been ordained a priest.

When I came to visit him in his room, he asked me to help him find the page for the proper liturgy of the day. I was all glad to assist him. When we found the page, his eyes were gleaming with gratitude.  He was quick when I asked if he’s available to hear my confession, he was there to remind me of God’s love.

In the privacy of his room, he stays alone most of the time except when nurses come for their usual rounds. Or if some confreres or guests drop by for some conversations. But when left alone, he is not eaten by oblivion. For he prays the prayers of the Church, and when someone comes to ask for him to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation, and for simply being him as a human person and as a priest, he earns his rightful place in the universe.

In a life of forever, there is no place for obscurity.


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