'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

17 September 2010


Death. Do We Really Care ? 
(written some years ago)
I once thought I was going to die during the evening. I had worked myself into a state of depression and thought I had overdone it. I have a lousy heart that is was not supposed to last much longer. The only thing I could think of was someone I loved. I left a hastily scribbled note on the desk so that if I died someone would find it eventually and know of my last thoughts.
Surprise! I survived.
I have known a lot of death, all Grandparents; Parents, Uncles; Aunts; Cousins; Siblings; work mates; many, many friends, and several lovers. They have died through illness, car accidents, plane crashes, suicides, murders, and drug overdoses. It is not a stranger, but unlike the late and great author Marguerite Yourcenar, I would not look upon Death as a friend. The ugliness with which so many I have known have died is far from anything I could look upon kindly.
When I contemplate my own death I see nothing but fear. In moments of desperation when suicide seems an option it is not with comfort that I approach it, but with deranged panic, and total terror. On the other hand if I am meditating on some future easy and eventual passing away, fear still lurks beneath this inevitable realisation.
My Father feared his own death, although he had known it to be soon. He took no comfort in the fact that he has survived two near misses because of his heart. He was old and hated it. He passed away with his wife, my mother, holding his hand. I washed him and dressed him with relief that no more would he require the morphine, undergo the fear and the pain and the humiliation. A slow process, an inevitable progression, the end and a beginning for us all.
Age is like death. A line in a favourite Michael Nyman song, appropriately named "I Am An Unusual Thing", never fails to leap out at me. It invades my consciousness whenever it is played, no matter what I am doing. The words are from a riddle by Mozart- "And my life is of short duration, for I die almost at the moment I am born" - the answer is Music, but the words, death following birth so closely, are true. Life is short. As you age, it progresses at a frightening rate. This is one of the compelling reasons to make every moment count and live now, not always for tomorrow, for you may not be here. Hope and plan for tomorrow, but live today to the full. This is why I insist on my life being perfect, and insist that others do likewise. I realise that it is unjust and harsh to expect this of others, but I love them and fear for their eventual fulfilment. Age does not do much except allow you to say you have been around for a certain length of time, and will eventually decay and die. Maturity, whatever that is, experience, growing up, are all rather feeble, meaningless words that are associated with longevity. We change rather little and each of us succeeds or fails with each individual event because of many reasons. Years being the least important. The old can not pull rank because of their age, and the young can not use their youth as an excuse. Once we can walk and talk we have to start taking responsibility for our actions. Some of us did not have the advantage of successful training, but if we care, we should have taken over our own training when we began to experience the first taste of independence. If you have not started yet, don't delay. Remember you will soon be made worms meat.
Yes, I do care.
Click to enlarge and see the Stunning grave of Rudolf Vureyev  and that of Oscar Wilde which is covered in the lipstick marks of hundreds of pilgrim kisses.

For the Curious

Do you need to see what Rudolf Nureyev grave looks like or where Oscar Wilde is buried and other details? Go to Find a Grave site and search something like 51 million records. Right Click link below. It is a fascinating resource for those interested in history and who rests where.

Find a Grave
Some very early personal and true memories of death integrated into my fictional novel 'Dance With the Sun'

......Between the ages of ten and twelve, what would normally be described as a series of somewhat dramatic events happened. An older red headed girl he had gone to primary school with, convinced him to show her and a friend his private parts and to kiss hers. Under her house, which was in retrospect fraught with the danger of discovery they entered into the game, secret, at the insistence of the girls, to all but themselves. Although he had seen Annie undressed plenty of times he was intrigued by the little fleshy mound with a tiny cut in it, that with excitement the adventurer was able to taste and smell for the first time. Guiltlessly he saw nothing terribly wrong with this. It turned out to be quite a lot of fun, but when she and her entire family were killed by a car some time later he often dreamed that, because of their 'sin', her scalped and bloodied body might be burning in Hell. It seemed unreasonable, but that is what middle class Australia was attempting to brainwash him into thinking. Teachers and priests insisted that the flesh he found so natural and beautiful was in fact wicked, and instead of celebrating the human body as he had always done, he must find it shameful. The temptation to touch or admire one another was worse than the destruction of the body, it was the destruction of the soul. He resisted the implication that it was better to kill than to love, but was that not what they were saying?

A short time after this the family and grandparents were driving to the sea shore, when in a moment of sudden horror the car in front of them was smashed in the side by another vehicle speeding from a side street. What must have taken but a few moments became a distant slow motion picture of a woman and her baby flying through the window of the car. As she lay on the road with her child cushioned under her body the vehicle rolled once, twice and on the third impact its bonnet smashed heavily onto the woman and continued to bounce to the side of the bitumen where it finally came to rest. The boy looked at the woman who lay still where she had landed. The shock of the vision erased much of what happened, but he recalls his Grandfather jumping from the car and running to the accident. He would never forget the report the old man gave of the bones that protruded from the young woman's limbs as she lay on the road subject to the indignity of the stares of the crowd gathered to see her in the most private moment of her life; her death. At first the boy thought how suddenly without warning, and when least expected, life can be stilled. Do we see it happening? Is there a moment when we realise that it has finished, or is it simply as if someone has turned off the switch and in an instant we cease to be? For those who do not believe in a future life, this must be the conclusion, or is it possible to see our death as it happens, and then look back on it? How can it be comprehended? Surely the spirit, if strong, will continue to roam.

Having seen death extinguish another soul before his eyes, he tried to contemplate just what had happened to the girl with whom he had played those secret explorations, but the sights his mind gathered up became too horrific for him to capture and hold, and it fled from his thoughts. He found he could not, would not, see the ugliness of the world, and this the greatest of imperfections, was the ugliest of all. To him all things were, or could be, and in the end must be beautiful. Running from the ugly was something that remained with him and something with which he could never come to terms. It was not for him. Life to be worth living, had to be wonderful. There was no room for the evil side. It had to be avoided. It did not exist.......
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