The Unlikely Stoic

My grandfather was a great man. He would have identified himself as a stoic; he would have appreciated Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations if he wouldn’t have quit school at the tender age of fourteen, left the village where he was born, and walked barefoot for some forty miles to the nearest city to work in construction.
He taught me many valuable lessons, but the most important one he never dared utter into existence.

It took him some thirty years to die.

Diabetes, heart problems, arthritis…

A man of incredible discipline and infinite hope, he tried every treatment and diet imaginable. He never complained.

The first and only time I saw him scared was in March 2014 at the hospital. Lying on a hospital bed, after having survived a surgery his own doctors predicted would kill him, and waiting for another one, he grabbed me by the hand and looked at me with teary eyes.

I wanted to tell him so much, yet I couldn’t utter a single word.

That was the last time I saw him.
This man had to endure so much pain and suffering for almost half his entire lifetime. And it begs a question: why?

Why go through it all, why break your own heart day in and day out by hanging on to the hope that there’s a way to avoid it all? That there’s something out there that can make it all better?

We all die.

No matter what.

We all die.

But this also means that we were fortunate enough to have lived.


More essays on life and death in Memento Mori, available on


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