I’m resisting my own mortality.
My belief systems have changed radically over the years, but I’ve yet to experience any peace with the idea of death.
Nope. Death, I don’t really dig you.
For those of us with control issues (and I’m assuming a lot, here) the idea of death is the ultimate slap on the cosmic wrist. Nice try, Death intones, much like Ian McKellan. Time’s up when I say so.
That’s right. Currently, Death is a dignified, seasoned, slightly randy British guy. I suppose that’s my subconscious trying to make Death something I might actually enjoy hanging out with.
I don’t think death is a morbid thing. The word has become a kind of no-no at dinner parties, but it’s not a concept I seek to actively avoid. My brain can’t help wanting to figure stuff out, so I find myself revisiting this idea.
It’s unecessary to discuss when death is unfair. We’ve all seen examples. It fucking sucks. So what about when death comes at the end of a long life? When it doesn’t particularly rob anyone of anything? When it’s welcome?
I used to say (out loud for chrissake) that I wasn’t going to go until I wanted to. Right. Because that’s possible. I think it made me feel better to assert that the timing of my demise was exclusively up to me. As if.
My life has been long enough now to experience a number of losses. Some of them were more abstract than others; describing my mother’s death requires a language I’m still learning.
When I was in the 7th grade, a friend of mine died in a plane crash. The only passengers were him, his brother, and his father, who piloted the plane. At the funeral, his mother was braced behind her sunglasses, which were braced behind her hand. She moved within a small circle of family who took turns lifting her from her chair, helping her to walk some steps, gently lowering her into the next chair.
I didn’t cry at the funeral. I tried to understand that he wasn’t going to be in class the next day. That he physically wasn’t going to be anywhere, ever. What animated him, what made him lean towards plaid shirts and short hair and a quiet sense of humor and a tendency toward crushes, all that electricity and kinetic energy and the empathies that belonged exclusively to him, were suddenly gone.
One of the definitions of gone is used up.
My friend was gone. There wasn’t anything left. The night before, I’d cried into my beanbag, out of a sense of profound helplessness and frustration. The proverbial rug has been jerked so quickly and cleanly out from all of us.
Elegies and dirges attempt to describe the finality of death, but it feels like trying to conceive of infinity. I think we’re almost unable to fully grasp what it means, and maybe that’s what keeps us alive.