Death at the birthday


There has been a death in the family and it is so shocking. With all the practice I have had over the years, the reality of sudden death is so shocking. It took me around 12 hours to really grasp what had happened and allow the emotion to flow. Up until then I was alternating between humour and disbeleif.

I had a dinner party for my birthday happening at the time, so it took some thinking as to how to proceed, but once I had told all about the situation it was very supportive as a situation. The doorbell had rung at about 10pm and three people came to tell me that my close, close friend was dead. I stood in the garden letting the freezing cold try to bring me into my body and to my feelings, but it did not happen. I just stood there imagining her alive, wonderful, kind and about to arrive. She had helped me prepare the food. She had touched most of what we were eating. Over the next three hours everyone talked about her and death. It was very interesting, calm and beautiful. It turned into a very exquisite evening, with so much sharing on the experience of death. Of course everyone had been touched by death, some more closely than others. Some had walked for a long time holding hands with the awareness, through illnesses of their own. Others could remember experiences from a long time ago, but had been spared the pain for a while.
We tend to avoid death when it comes too close. No problem with looking at it on the news. The grisly Evening Standard headlines always making me wonder who, where, when, but it does nothing to ease the fear of death. In some ways it creates a sense of relief, thank God it was them, not me. And I am not writng about my own death now. I write about someone else, but am so off balance by how much it hurts. Is it all tears for now? Or is it grief unexpressed through the years, that opportunistically rides along the waves? Surfing and whooping at the chance for an escape?

I arrived at the school this morning really looking as though I had been through the mill. Haggard and tired from all the crying I watched how I was avoided and how much I did not want to look in the eyes of others. I needed not to relate. Over the day today, dealing with coroners, funeral parlours and the daily routine of life, much of the pain has settled into a huge thirst. I feel as though I cannot drink enough.

I would like life to be simpler, somehow, but would not go back on any of the experiences I have had over the years. This recent loss of a loved one has let me really aknowledge how superb a person she was. How extraordinarily noble and good. How gifted we all were to have really known her.