the angel of death is in the room. what is she doing here?
i am unsettled, uncomfortable, as her warm feathered wings caress my wet cheek, a lifting of hair on the soft breeze. her wings are as dark as a night-time ocean.
she is not here for me, nor mine, who i hold so dear. they are my precious, precious jewels. not here for us, not yet.
she is here, not as a guest, not welcome, but a one who cannot be refused. she chooses where she goes, and to whom she visits.
she is here as a reminder, of the fragility of life. she sits beside me and whispers, lips not moving.
she tells me that my brother's best friend is gone. he died in the middle of the night, at 3am, the darkest and loneliest time, the time when our souls sometimes slip out of our bodies as we sleep. they breathe away, over the landscape to the places of the mind where perhaps they join a dream, of giggling lightness and fancy, or perhaps to hellish nightmare, where you find yourself alone, cold, unloved.
we don't know what happened to him. there are questions.
why is it that it's only when a person dies, suddenly, that you fully consider them, contemplate their existence in a way that you didn't the day before, or a week ago. sure, other people are in your life, right up in your face sometimes, or hovering at the side. but it's not until they die that you begin to tell the stories about them, the memories, the lived realities that you shared. the rhapsodising, the building of their image, the one you will keep with you forever. you are burying them with your words, and their body may still be warm, the spirit only just departed. this can seem indecently hasty.
this doesn't happen if your loved or liked one leaves slowly, like when there is illness. then you are lucky, yes lucky, to have time, if there is the will and the words, to do the consideration and to tell that person how you will remember them. to have those difficult and emotional conversations, and to tell them that you love them.
i have told my mother that it will hit me with such force, and perhaps bring me to my knees, that at the moment she dies i will feel so alone. and i will be motherless, an awful thing for a person of any age.
i have told her how much i love her, many times more in the last five years of her cancer, than i did previously. i tell her how beautiful she is, her skin transluscent and relaxed, her smile soft, her laugh girlish. her eyes light up with pleasure when i tell her this, and she loves it.
she loves me.
but when someone goes suddenly, it's even crueller. it's all cruel, but on the old cruelty scale there are notches, degrees of awfulness.
what is the lesson?
live each moment, tell people you love them, OFTEN. be kind to people, let them be kind to you. work every day at developing a kind and loving heart.