Bassem Sabry—one of Egypt’s most prominent bloggers, political analysts, and revolutionaries died a few days ago. I didn’t know him personally—nor did I even know of him before his passing. He was a friend of many of my friends though; they shared his writings, tweets, and Facebook statuses. Their reaction to the news of his sudden death was all heart-breaking.
I found myself weeping, as it is common especially when someone so young and idealistic dies. Part of the sadness of course is that death reminds us of the loved ones we lost—and the loved ones we are petrified of losing.
And then the most curious thing happened, as more and more people starting gushing over how much they loved and adored and worshipped him. I found myself getting angry. Yes, angry! It’s not my place to judge whether Bassem felt that he was so loved when he was still amongst us because I didn’t know him, but I am old enough, cynical enough, and jaded enough to realize that love is the least expressed emotion among us humans.
When someone dies there’s always a prevailing sentiment of “sorry, I never told you all I wanted to say.” When someone dies, people realize how truly awesome and wonderful that person was. When someone dies, people mourn the passing of loved ones that they never really let them know how much they meant for them in the first place.
We almost always go through life unappreciative of the people who mean the most to us—until they are gone. And this makes me angry! Parents and kids, lovers and friends—we take them for granted for some reason, as if they’ll always be there, as if we’ll always be there. Although we know damn well this is not true.
Mourning brings about sadness but people like to do it—because mourning is a safe type of loving. Loving the dead is easy. It doesn’t make you vulnerable, you can idealize them as much as you want, and makes you feel like a “good, grateful, sensitive” person. But does it matter? Well, you may honor them by talking about their legacy which is, of course, nice. But does it matter? To them? To the people you loved?
Loving the living is hard. They can hurt you, disagree with you, and most problematically, want things from you. The dead, on the other hand, are a content and don’t ask us for much.
What struck me most about Bassem is not his wit or eloquence—it is how loving he was. He was sending people “just because” messages and tweets to cheer them up, make them feel loved and appreciated. There aren’t many people in our corner of the world so giving of themselves. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have him as a friend, but I am fortunate enough to still have wonderful people in my life whom I am taking for granted but shouldn’t.
I think part of honoring his legacy is to spread the love. To love the living, and recognize that mourning is not the only kind of love there is.