Sunday, 12 August 2012

Death becomes her...

This morning I woke up at 2am.  I went to the toilet and then settled back into bed.  This is the point that I would normally go straight back to sleep.  But then this thought floated through my head: 

Every year we pass the anniversary of our death

I know.  Random, right?   Do you think I could go back to sleep after THAT?  Thoughts like “will I die in August?”, “will I die by myself?” and then the morbid thought “I wonder how I’ll die….”.


This thought haunted me and interrupted various parts of my day today.

Every year we pass the anniversary of our death

I read this sentence recently and it was in the context of W. S. Merwin’s poem “For the anniversary of my death”.  I read it about a week ago, and I didn’t think much of it at the time.  But clearly my subconscious filed it away to be retrieved at the most convenient time of 2am today.

This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about death at length.  The first was when I was about 12.  Shaka Zulu the tele-movie was on and when he died, I cried myself to sleep.  It suddenly occurred to me, as I watched Shaka Zulu die from the multiple stab wounds, that one day I will know what it’s like to die.  And that thought made me spiral into a despair and depression that didn’t shift for days.  Pretty bloody heavy for a 12 year old.

And so it has continued through to my adult years.  At various times through my life, I've found myself back down the black hole and depressed about dying.  Let me share with you how deep my disturbing preoccupation with death can run. I actually wonder what I will be wearing when I die.  I wonder if it’s already in my wardrobe.  I mean, isn’t that just crazy and pointless?

But these days when thoughts of death come visiting, all it does is reinforce to me to live each day as if it’s my last.  Try to be the best me I can be.  Love this life.  Love those I’m with.  Try not to be the crankiest bitch on the earth.  And try to let everyone I love, know that I love them.

Because death will come to all of us and as I get older, I am more at peace with this fact than the little girl crying for Shaka Zulu.

And so, let me share with you the poem that got me thinking.

For the Anniversary of My Death
By W. S. Merwin

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day  
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

So I beg you.  Live this life to the absolute full.  Let go of those grudges, don't stress about the kids not sleeping, let your husband do the washing...his way.  And smile.

This life of ours.  It's short.

It is just. too. short.

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