No, sorry to disappoint all the Harry Potter fans but this is not a Harry Potter post (although that would really be fun, right?)
This post is about death.
Very heavy topic. Me-no-likey.
But I have to talk about it because it’s really been weighing on me.
I’ve been thinking about death lately and I thought it would be worth having a ‘death series’ where I discuss my thoughts and fears and philosophies(ha!) on death.
So without further ado, let’s get into it.
I mean, I’m not even sure I know where I’m going with this but let’s see.
I’m scared of dying. Very few people are comfortable with the concept of death. It is such a taboo topic with such bad omen attached to it that I’m getting the hibbie jibbies just sitting here and writing this.
My tribe (and I guess many African tribes?) have symbols for death. For us it’s an owl. If an owl hooted in your village or homestead, it was said someone would die there. I used to get so scared when I heard this folk-tale despite the fact that I had never even seen an owl in real life.
When I became a teenager, I got pretty obsessed with owls. I don’t even know why. I had owl shirts and owl phone-wallpapers and owl paraphernalia. But it always lingered in my mind like a warning, like an aftertaste, that I was dancing too close to the fire.
I love that poem by Dylan Thomas that goes:
“Do no go gentle into that good night…rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
When I think of death now, it is for sure scary, but it is also laced with a lot of will and desire to live. An imposition to actually stop and smell the flowers…literally.
And you know, for me, I don’t think that we each have a specific day and time written down when we will die. I believe that accidents are accidents. They can happen anytime, anywhere to anybody. At least that’s what I believe for now. And I don’t mean to scare you, but that thing people say “you don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” I take it quite literally.
So, yes. Death is pretty scary, but it’s inevitable right?
Do you guys do this thing where you imagine what it would be like if your parent, sibling, or significant other died? And you’re not even thinking about it in a malicious way. You just imagine how bad it would be, then you start ugly crying?
I read somewhere that grieving for the loss of a loved one does not necessarily always have to happen when the person dies, but sometimes, people grieve for the living.
Good thing or bad thing? I’m not sure.
And when I fall into this dark rabbit hole of thinking about death, I actually sometimes end up a little more zealous about life in a way.
Suddenly, the sun is no longer a heat-ball in the sky doing its rounds, but a blazing mystery. The stars hold me again with the gripping fascination that they once did when I was younger.
Then I find that I want to really, really hug my mom even though she will swat me away like, “what has come over you girl.” But I just laugh and hug her even tighter.
Suddenly, I notice how tall my sister has actually grown and what a funny and smart and just awesome person she is.
And suddenly, that looming exam no longer feels so monstrous.
Contemplating death certainly does not take away the every day problems and stresses but I suppose it does make living more worth while.
It is the reason some people obsessively go through the obituary. It reminds them of their own mortality. It reminds them of the absurd fragility of life.
And here, as I conclude, I would like to share a glorious poem by Rose Milligan that is a great reminder of life, when death is all we can think of.
Thank you for your time.