I haven’t posted in a week. The reason? Death. No, nobody close to me has died recently, I haven’t been grieving any particular loss, I’ve just been in deep contemplation of the idea of dying, the mourning process, and the aftermath. How does one live after death?
Cher asked “do you believe in life after love?”to which I always answer moodily, depending on when the song starts playing. However, do you believe in life after death? If so, how does one continue, and what scars does parting bestow on those still living? It is unarguably easy to die; once you’re gone you’re free, whether you’ve spent the last ten months in a hospital bed, or fell asleep to never wake up, when the light goes out it’s over, for you and whoever is left. I was five the first time I became aware of someone’s passing. I had been sitting with her a day earlier in her bed. She was attached to machines, yet when she saw me holding a pack of fresh figs, her favourite fruit, she sat up and peeled some for both of us. At 5 years old, you just don’t get it, the tubes and the blood bags…you’re just aware of the lingering smell hospitals are so known for – I hate that smell. The next day, I was in the stairway ready to find her room when they told me I wasn’t to see her anymore. Ever. I remember that staircase so well, the white banister, the hermetically closed window… you don’t forget the places where all of a sudden your life derails from its tranquil course. My grandmother also loved figs, she had a big tree in her garden and when we’d walk by it, she’d pick a few and share her tree’s bearings with me. When she passed, nobody told me; being in the middle of my exams, nobody wanted to distract me with the news I’m still struggling with 8 years later. Figs… we pick strange things to remember, strange things to hold onto, strange things to move on with… Whenever I eat figs I need silence, and until recently, I had never understood why, the reason I so naturally slipped into a meditative state every time I had any. As I watched a small video on death and how people continued after witnessing loved ones depart from their presence, it hit me: I haven’t moved on, I haven’t forgotten, I live with death every day and I smile. Not because they’re gone, but because through the simple act of peeling a fig and sensing its sweetness in silence, I am once again the little 5 year old with the two old ladies that marked my childhood so evidently.
Nostalgia is mourning the death of the past, it is lived through our senses; smells, sounds, textures, sights and tastes all hold our memories, patiently waiting to revive what we thought had left us forever. Maybe in the end we’re only memories, pacing through others’ minds, and when we’re not being remembered, we sleep, unaware of our short-lived existence having ended. I suppose death is not so frightening after all.