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  • Writer's pictureShabazz L. Graham


Updated: Aug 3, 2021

What is life, if not time?

The time leading up to, the time of death.

What is death if not the end of time, for each of us alive? (the end of time on earth at least)

In the same way, each of us have a ‘birthday’; the kick-off point for the days of our life, each of us have a ‘death-day, a moment ‘in time’ when we will live the last day of our life.

For my brother Mark Graham, that day was today, Saturday, July 31st 2021. He was granted 51 years of life, celebrating his 51st birthday only at the beginning of last month, June, and now here we are, at 'the end', the end of his life. I’m stood in the stairwell of a block of flats in South London, with family members and the police, awaiting coroners to take my precious brother’s body away. The police have been amazing.

It’s funny how at times we can think about ‘where‘, ‘when’ and ‘how’ we are going to one day die, but the same can be said for family members we will survive; ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ will they go 😔. A heartbreaking thought. I woke up this morning not knowing my brother Mark wouldn’t be alive by the end of the day.

Death has such stubborn cruelty to it. 😠

Life feels like something else when someone close dies, it’s like it takes on new meaning; new significance. Consciousness suddenly feels ‘tangible’, as though existence is a spiritual, ‘real’ quality that definitely transcends the physical blood and sinew we are all wrapped in. In the presence of a lifeless body, there is an absence; someone and something is no longer present.

Life is a complex thing that is actually quite ‘simple’. Life is a span of time experienced by each of us individually. We each share a portion of time where we get to experience this vast mysterious world, for ourselves!

Yes, I guess I understand we live with the expectation of an “afterlife“, but some of us do that cowardly, not wanting to make the most out of this present life and present time we have. If I’m to be honest the mystery and intangibleness of the afterlife, which many of us believe in, can be annoying at times. It offers us hope yes, which is great, but it’s so secretive and elusive it seems impossible to comprehend or fathom, so I appreciate why so many don’t attempt to accept it. Grappling with the concept of living forever, without death, stands outside of everything we have ever known or conceived of knowing in this life with our limited brains and mind.

I’m happy to call myself “a man of faith”, who believes in God and the existence of some kind of an ‘afterlife’, but stood here in this cold stairwell, with the lifeless corpse of my beloved brother Mark, I struggle to know the comfort such a belief has, for me or for my dead brother, (especially as there is a prerequisite for ‘afterlife admission). This might be a surprise for you to hear from me (to those of you who ‘know‘ me) maybe, but that’s just how I feel right now.

Life is time that also includes time to have faith, and my faith doesn’t always have answers; my questions aren’t all answered, and that’s ok. A God who sits ‘outside of time’ is not beholden to little old me and the lack of comprehension I possess in time (“We see through a glass darkly”)

All this to say, the life we live, whilst in the physical body we currently exist in, is far too precious to waste. Every ‘week’, ‘day’, ‘hour’, ‘second’ is a priceless gift, the gift of time which we can never guarantee having again. Each day is a unique one which brings with it new hopes and opportunities.

As we grapple with “the big questions” in life and as we go on to then grapple with experiencing a life where we live out big answers to bigger questions, let’s live knowing one thing for certain, we haven’t got time to waste; we haven’t got life to waste! Why each of us is here, the purpose our life holds, these are questions we must use our lifetime to discover, and when we do discover our answers, we will do the best type of living we can ever do. We will live a lifetime of rich-quality time, where we will fulfil the potential our lives hold, not squandering the time we have left in life on nonsensical time-wasting exercises.

Money can not always buy time. Billionaires die earlier than they think they can afford to.

“Life is a priceless treasure, so treasure it” - AsahShabazz

These musings and thoughts come to me at a time whilst my family and I await the coroners report on how my brother Mark died. To say he’s ‘gone too soon is an understatement, yet one I will still say because I believe he had so much more life and potential to live out and fulfil, and the life you lived Mark, plagued by long-held addictions you had; addictions which might have been contributing factors to your lifetime being cut short, you deserved more joy dear brother 😔. You deserved more joy and love in your life! I am forever sorry you won’t experience some of the treasures life had waiting, in time, to give you beloved brother.

‘Time’ which can no longer be ‘lived‘ and/or ‘experienced’ can no longer be even called ‘time’, it is a vapour which exists now only as a ‘dream’. If I could give you anything now Mark it would be this, a heaven where you get to experience the feeling of the love and joy that you missed out on in the lifetime you have just left behind. If God could grant you that in this heaven we hear about, or even better still, if God himself was that, well that would be amazing! Incredible even.

Time after ‘time’, is a hope I appreciate humans having. It can be comforting now I come to think of it. Even though it’s still very mysterious and can be fleeting, I see its purpose as a thought experiment that offers a type of ‘peace’ and ‘comfort’ for the grieving relative.

What are the things which make up the substance of one man’s life, different from the decisions and substance of another man’s life?

What contributes to making one-man live a more fulfilling life than another? I wish I could turn back the hands of time and miraculously go back to your childhood Mark and change things in your life to make it so you experienced a different life than the one it is concluded you now have lived out.

With bitter tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart as I write these words, I am so sorry I have not these powers, as I would make it so that you knew a life without drugs, a life without addiction to any substance that would rob you of the precious life-time you could have had, I would make you know the love of an unbroken family, I would make you know the love of a family of your own, a wife who adored and respected you, helping you to be the best version of yourself, and I would make you know the precious love of children, children of your own who would enrich your life every time you had the fortune of hearing them say “I love you, daddy!” 😔.

If only I had these powers, Mark, your lifetime would not have ended today brother. I’m very sorry bro 😢.

I love you, Mark. I’m sorry machismo and distance made your life one where you didn’t get to hear these words enough from me, “your baby brother”. 😔.

Death has a way of changing life, not so much as because death is ‘death’ but because it’s the end of life. It’s the end of a lifetime. It's the ‘life thief’ which steals potential and time ‘un-lived’.

Death has a way of changing life because so much of who we are comes from the experiences we have of living alongside each other. The people we spend life with contributing to making our lives what they eventually become.

Mark’s death has triggered something in me, a sorrow I will need to somehow shape and mould into an action or principle or something that will become a part of his enduring legacy. ‘Legacy’ hey? now there’s a way we outlive our lives. Legacy is a type of afterlife; the resonance of our coexistence can be found in our legacy.

There are life lessons in death which cannot be learned anywhere else.

In closing, I will simply repeat my sentiments from this…musing. Life is time, time to not be wasted, so please live life with purpose and not by accident. Walk into each day giving this short life we live our very best shot. See time as the treasure it is and treasure it, along with every loved one you have that contributes to making your lifetime as precious as it is!

Be loved and most of all, be loving!

One love 🙏🏽

Shabazz, the 7th Son of Miss V.

Peace and love to all my siblings, and the seven sons of Miss V; Dr Paul, Moses, Wayne, Ian, Mark (RIP) and Jason.

395 views6 comments


Aug 05, 2021

I know I’m but a solitary voice amongst a chorus of well wishes but I will add my voice nevertheless. The piece you wrote whilst experiencing what must be unimaginable pain was truly powerful. It’s rare I will sit and absorb every word of anything. But of this I did. One of the most painful things about life is that often it doesn’t give us answers, only questions. Questions which I suppose can only truly be answered if our faith takes us past that finish line. One Thing I can be certain of however is that your brother would have been proud to have you. I want to add my prayer to yours that your brother is now resting in…

Shabazz L. Graham
Shabazz L. Graham
Aug 05, 2021
Replying to

David 😢 thank you beloved brother. Powerful. You’re so right life truly does give us more questions than answers. I pray we have peace with the questions we are forced to wrestle with, and the answers we are at times forced to have to accept. 🙏🏾😔 Bless you bro. Thank you for raking the time to comment and respond as you have. Big love dear brother.


Jack Wells
Jack Wells
Aug 04, 2021

Ah, I'm so sorry Shabazz. This is a raw reminder of the preciousness of life. Amazing that you could find the words. Sending lots of love your way.


Aug 01, 2021

So sorry for your loss, Shabazz. Love to you and the family


Mahmoud Rollings-Kamara
Mahmoud Rollings-Kamara
Aug 01, 2021

I commend you my brother for starting and sharing the journey of grief. May your faith be the crutch upon which you lean on, as you walk this path. Know that you are not alone. You are never alone. There will be parts of this journey that you will walk on your own but you are never alone. Stay blessed my brother

Shabazz L. Graham
Shabazz L. Graham
Aug 01, 2021
Replying to

Thank you beloved brother.

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