Impermanence

By Austin B. Hahn

Disclaimer: this is a fictional story.

(Someone knocks on the door. A young woman named Julia answers it.)

Julia: Greg?

(Greg, frustrated, barges in through the doorway past Julia.)

Greg: I’m done with this Julia.

Julia: What’s the matter?

(Greg pauses for a moment and becomes teary-eyed.)

Greg: I thought about what you said yesterday when we were on the docks. Look, Julia, I know you are going to die of cancer, but you see, I still want to marry you.

(Julia begins to cry.)

Julia: Damn it, Greg! Why did you have to do this to me!?

Greg: Do what, Julia?

Julia: Come into my life, and be this amazing person, and as soon as I get diagnosed with cancer, you want to marry me?

(Greg starts crying.)

Greg: I can’t waste another day knowing that the love of my life is just down the street from me, and I could be married to her. I have been waiting for someone like you my entire life!

Julia: Yeah but I can’t even give you kids! Don’t you want that!? Do you want to wake up one day to a pregnant wife lying dead next to you in bed!?

(Julia is bawling.)

Greg: Of course I would want kids with you! Just because we can’t have a baby doesn’t mean that we can’t be together. No matter how long or short.

(Julia drops to the floor, sobbing. She then looks up at Greg.)

Julia: The doctor said I only have two months left to live.

(Greg walks towards Julia and kneels down to her level.)

Greg: Then we’ll get married. I’ll give you a beautiful wedding and take you to places around the globe with me.

(Greg holds her hand with a promising smile.)

(On May 6th, 1974, Greg and Julia Andrews married outside of the Sistine Chapel. They experienced everything together, from African skies to Italian cuisine, and visited the three cities Julia wanted to see in her life: Paris, Prague, and Rome. One day, as Julia held on to the back of Greg while riding on an elephant in South Africa, she suddenly fell ill. She was rushed to a hospital. Despite receiving medical care, her health became worse each passing hour. In the waiting room, Greg was informed by a doctor that she would not make it. He spent his final moment with Julia sitting next to her while holding her right hand as she lay lifeless on the bed.)

Julia: Thank you for making this a wonderful closing chapter to my life.

Greg: You’re welcome, and I love you.

(Julia gazes into Greg’s eyes.)

Julia: I love you too.

(Julia Andrews was pronounced dead at 11:24 p.m. on July 8th, 1974. Julia’s body was cremated. Her ashes were sprinkled into the Mediterranean Sea, and, back home, along the coast of Los Angeles. Two weeks later, in L.A. on a hot summer day, as Greg sprinkled her remains along the shore, he stopped and looked out into the ocean. He pondered for a minute or two. He wondered why his wife had to be taken away from him so soon. While reflecting upon his loss, he discovered something profound. He knew in his heart that the joy of being married to her, regardless of how short, outweighed the pain of her death. From that moment on, Greg realized he could either live the rest of his life cherishing what has been given to him, or he could dwell on what has been taken away from him.)

Thank God for Death!

By Austin B. Hahn

Have you ever hated someone so much that you wanted to kill them or wished they were dead? Well you don’t have to. Time will get them for you. As each year goes by, they get closer to Death. You don’t have to do anything. They get older each minute.

Sick of your wife nagging you on Christmas Day to spend time with your in-laws? No problem. Death can take her away. Wanting revenge after someone wronged you? Don’t sweat it. Death will arrive at their doorstep one day. Tired of watching your loved one suffer through chemotherapy? No worries. Death will take care of them. Medicine can treat pain, but Death has the ultimate power to liberate us from our bodies and free us from any chronic illness.

We as human beings should be thankful for all aspects of the life cycle, including Death. If it wasn’t for Death, life as we know it would become stale. The conditions that we were born into, such as our ethnicity, genes, national origin, and who our parents and siblings are, would forever remain the same.

Some perceive the loss of a loved one as a tragedy. However, I believe that a life lived, no matter how short, is an accomplishment. Living takes courage, and there’s no guarantee that our lives will reach fulfillment; we’re only assured that Death awaits us. Like Karma, as an inevitable force of nature, Death does not have a deadline. Death is uncertain. We have to love our family and friends today and maintain enough detachment so we’re not taken by surprise if they are gone tomorrow. The loss of a loved one is not a time to mourn, but a time to celebrate their life. Since no one lives eternally, we must not forget the importance of rejoicing in the moments we shared with them and that shedding tears upon their passing is healthy, but crying a river will not bring them back.

We seem to have little understanding of a person’s worth when they’re alive. We commodify what they owned in life, marvel at their accomplishments, and reminisce about the pleasant times, but we rarely tell them all we want to say when they’re alive, so we end up writing a eulogy they’ll never hear. We’ll start to miss their quirks that once annoyed us. We’ll think of them when we pass by their favorite restaurant. We’ll play a song that matches the emotions in our heart when we think about them. We’ll even sometimes pretend they’re still alive after watching a video of them, but they’re gone . . .

We may never know what more they could have done with their life, but one thing is certain: because of Death, they can’t be hurt anymore. There’s no more suffering. There’s no more struggle. There’s no more pain. Everything is quiet.

All we can do now is keep some mementos of this person for memories.

For Selena

By Austin B. Hahn

Dear Selena:

Wow! I can’t believe you’ve been gone for 20 years. I remember when I heard you sing for the first time. I was 18 years old, and I knew that you had been long gone, but I wanted to know who you were, so I watched you on YouTube. You sang “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” at the 1994 Tejano Music Awards. I swear it was like listening to Whitney Houston and Luis Miguel for the first time; my heart exploded. I couldn’t stop dancing and saying, “bidi bidi bom bom.” I love your music. My favorite song of yours is “Fotos y Recuerdos.” I also loved watching the interviews of you and Rock n’ Roll James on Puro Tejano. You guys are so funny together. You two are like brother and sister. Although I’m sad that I won’t get the chance to meet you in person, I hope that you can sense my spirit when I dance to one of your songs like “La Carcacha” or “El Chico del Apartamento 512″ y otras canciones. =D I’m writing this letter for myself, so I can have closure. I’m writing this letter for the fans. I’m writing this letter for you, Selena.

When I was younger, I used to think that the world only had so much space and that maybe if more people just died that it wouldn’t weigh so heavy and that our problems with overpopulation would be solved. I’m ashamed to admit it, and I am not proud of myself for such a despicable thought. (Selena fans keep reading. There’s a point to this.) I was a junior in high school, and my human anatomy and physiology class had gone on a field trip. We went to a university to look at some human bodies and observe the parts that we were studying. During our time there, all I could remember thinking was, “How incredible to know that these were once living beings. They loved somebody, they laughed with someone, they lived  … they affected people!” That was my first enlightening experience with death. I became aware of my mortal limits and that my soul on the inside has intentions, but it’s my body that has the ability to put them into effect and create change on the outside. It was a powerful moment for me … then I discovered you.

If someone died, it never bothered me – not because I’m a cruel person – because I know that death is inevitable. We are all going to die one day. I never really missed anyone until you came along. I watched all of your music videos, interviews, performances, and I read about you. You fascinated and devastated me at the same time. Besides your boutiques, fashion, and exotic music, your work with a Battered Women’s Help Hotline and the D.A.R.E. program to keep kids off of drugs, along with your efforts to encourage high schoolers to graduate, astonished me. I don’t know of any famous person today using their status to help people in their community. We are only left to wonder what more you could have done for the world if you had continued to live.

It’s unfortunate that my generation will never get a chance to experience the joy of you other than by watching old video clips from the 80s and 90s. Whenever I watched you laugh, I would think of my best friend laughing, so I’d start laughing, but then I felt sad because I would think, “How could someone murder this amazing person!?” Someone shooting you would be almost as if someone were to shoot my best friend.

I realized that I had grown to love you. I felt foolish for loving a dead person who I never met, but you changed me, Selena. All in the same year, I got to see dissected human bodies at a university, and I learned about your life. After my close up with death, I no longer thought of it as a solution to our problems with world population. I no longer thought of people as space occupiers. Everyone affects someone. Through your death, as tragic as it is, I became a better person. If I can fall in love with you in your death as a complete stranger, then I can look forward to meeting all the wonderful people I will love in life.

It’s a shame when we don’t open up and allow people to get to know us; we might be missing an opportunity to meet our best friend or the love of our life. If Selena was reserved and never shared herself with the world, we wouldn’t know who she was, but she did. She showed us, through her personality and her actions, that we don’t have to throw someone under the bus to have success, and that’s one of the reasons why people love her. On a more personal note, all people outside of our families come along as total strangers at first, but the decision to open up is ours. We all have something in our souls that others will find to be beautiful, but as long as we’re closed off, they can’t see it. Selena shared herself with the world. Imagine if everyone else did. We could meet people who are better than anything we envisioned in our dreams! Selena might have died because she was too trusting, but the loss of never getting to know her would have outweighed the pain of her death. To end on a final note, but not to conclude on her life, as human beings, the chance to leave a lasting legacy is one of our greatest gifts. What will you leave behind?

Thank you, and rest in peace, Selena.

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Selena Quintanilla-Pérez

April 16th, 1971 – March 31st, 1995

Nunca olvidaremos lo que significó Selena para nosotros . . .

There Are Loves

By Austin B. Hahn

There are loves . . . everywhere I go

I loved you . . .
I love you . . .
I will love you . . .

I invite you to the privacy of my world
I show you the heart that never dies
You loved me back to life
And showed me all the things that I once loved

I give you the photos of my history
I trust you with the keys to my house
You took me by the hand to get closer
And whispered to me words of love

In my dreams you’re only a fantasy
In reality you are my eternal love
You will be the joy, the sadness, and the madness
You will fill out the rest of the chapters of my life

We would’ve loved in an earlier time
We were young and didn’t know ourselves
We were destined to love before our time
And I had realized that I loved you before I met you

Now you are dancing in the distance
I see you drifting over the sea
I imagine you along the shore
You are nowhere to be found

The absence of your presence dwells within me

And yet I am still here yearning for your love . . .

Hay Amores

Por Austin B. Hahn

Hay amores . . . dondequiera que vaya

Te quise . . .
Te quiero . . .
Te querré . . .

Te invito a la privacidad de mi mundo
Te muestro el corazón que jamás muere
Me querías de vuelta a la vida
Y me mostraste todas las cosas que solía amar

Te regalo las fotos de mi historia
Te confío con las llaves de mi casa
Me llevaste de la mano para acercarte a mí
Y me dijiste en voz queda palabras del amor

En mis sueños tú sólo eres una fantasía
En realidad, tú eres mi amor eterno
Tú serás la alegría, la tristeza y la locura
Tú llenarás el resto de los capítulos de mi vida

Nos habríamos amado en un tiempo anterior
Éramos jóvenes y no nos conocíamos a nosotros mismos
Estábamos destinados para amarnos antes de nuestro tiempo
Y me había dado cuenta que te amaba antes de conocerte

Ahora estás bailando en la distancia
Te veo navegando a la deriva encima del mar
Te imagino a lo largo de la orilla
No estás en ningún sitio que te pueda encontrar

La ausencia de tu presencia mora dentro de mí

Y aún estoy aquí anhelando tu amor . . .