In the beginning of Discovery of an Eagle, Cosmo sees the beauty of the autumn leaves: “And even though he knew that the leaves changing colors meant that they were dying, he never felt death in the air. He felt life, renewal, and revival.” Death is a primary theme of this story, in which he acknowledges the fragility of life– a realization that causes him to live more fully.
Around midway through this book, he and Silvia discuss how fear of death can potentially propel a person to cling to life. In Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees, Silvia’s Grandma Greco is mentioned as a miserable person who fears death as she holds “onto life like a vine clinging to an old brick building, seeping her crinkled hands into the cracks of humanity.” By contrast, Vincent, in The Bird that Sang in Color, is at peace with death, mostly because he lived life on his own terms. This is revealed in his statement: “I did just about everything I wanted to do, except for learning the harp and maybe the bagpipes.”
To be at peace with living, one must be at peace with dying. Maybe part of that peace is seeing the beauty in aging, like the aging leaves we see during the fall season. We can also see the beauty in death. While Donna walks outside in the winter, she notices the beauty of the bare trees whose leaves have all died: “While the trees’ branches were still naked, some splayed out like an octopus’s arms, others reaching straight up for the sky like a sun beam in reverse.”
This is my concluding post in my happiness series and how appropriate that my final post should be on the topic of the final thing we all do here. Indeed, true happiness is impossible without acknowledging this aspect of life. In having awareness and acceptance of death, we can actually live more fully, as Cosmo did. When we really know that each day is really only a gift and not a guarantee, we can make peace in our lives as Silvia did. We can, as Donna did, spend our time creating pictures of our lives–varied, colorful, and beautiful pictures!