Death is all around us; from the rotting carcass of a gnarly old tree, to the flattened hedgehog kicked to the side of the road, to the bouquet of flowers that hang their heads low from the lip of a vase; dispersing petals that fray and curl.
Death surrounds us. It is part of the norm. It is on our television screens at 6 o’clock. It happens to the villain on the silver screen, that we have paid to go and see. It is across the front page of the daily rag. How many lives lost – 1, 2, 3… 128? An accompanying picture and a thousand words… words that tell us how to feel about this, words that tell us whose side we are on. ‘Oh that’s horrible’, as we turn the page, change the channel, look away.
Out on the open road, we drive past those little white crosses emblazoned with faded wreaths. Sometimes there’s one, sometimes a cluster. We visit war sites and old concentration camps, on tourist trails. We walk through graveyards, past faceless names etched into granite blocks, with spots of lichen spreading across the letters.
‘Lovingly reme ed’, ‘F ver in ou rts’, ‘ ut not forgo n’
We die from laughter. Kids run around shooting each other with stick guns, found in the garden. We secretly wish that one overbearing and intimidating workmate would go and jump off a building. Wouldn’t that be nice?
And then it bursts our happy little bubble – death; an accident, an illness, a natural disaster… so close to home, so close to my heart. I know that person; I went to school with them! That happened just down the road! It could’ve been me! That’s my dad… .
As I have experienced and learnt, death has no bounds. It can happen at any time, to anyone. It is not selective in its process. It can feel unkind and unfair. Sometimes it takes away many from my circle of people that I know, other times it’ll be plain sailing for years. But it still happens, all of the time; to people that I know, to people that I don’t know. It is always there – death.
When someone dies, I feel it. I feel the emotional pain for those still here, who are grieving. I understand the process that they are going through. When a lot of people die, I feel it. The pain echoes through my soul; it is loss, it is sad, it is life. I don’t, however, dwell – there is still my life to lead.
Death has changed the way that I view the world. It has unintentionally left a positive impact on me. What I’ve been through has shown me a courage that I had not known existed. It has given me a new zest, the kiss of life. It has altered my perception of what I can achieve, in the here and now, knowing that the years on my lifetime, are not guaranteed.
Death hasn’t become me, it is just a facet of my life. Even though death has affected me more than your Average Joe in my short space of time, in unimaginable ways, it is something in my journey that has helped shape the path I currently walk. And for that, I am thankful for how death has helped me live.