Thought that might catch your attention. It sure caught mine!
It’s true, though not in the way it scarily sounds. At least I hope not, who knows! That’s the thing with Death. It’s the only guarantee. It’s like what my father said regularly, Born to Die. And he capitalized the D. He wasn’t known for being a cheerful fella. But then, not many Scorpios are. Not when they rule sex and death & they are, in turn, ruled by Mars & Pluto, the gods of war & annihilation.
Sincere, yes. Flippant, maybe. Cheerful, not so much.
Naw, I plan to live to see 127.
Yet ever since my father died 4 1/2 years ago, for good this time, I have been brushing more intimate with the only inevitability, my own demise. I had grieved my father most of my life, having only seen him in person twice, once at 12 & once at 29. Or was it 27? Anyway, I was surprised at how much deeper grief can go when the annihilation is complete. Actually, that’s dramatic. I feel he’s more with me now than when he was living, but the process of getting here was a deep and dark one.
I had thought I’d given up hope of having him in my life, but hope is like the scorpion itself—it can go a whole year without food or water. It can be frozen and come back to life. It can navigate by the stars & is so sensitive it feels the subtlest tremor of motion as an earthquake. My hope of my father in my life was like that. Yes, he had cancer (in his first chakra of “one’s right to exist”—gotta watch the mantras you repeat—saying Born to Die over and over may have had its impact…) but death didn’t seem imminent. So after 5 years of not being in touch, here we were again. And for the first time we had no scrims between us. The veils that had separated us–mostly of his issues, but also of mine–dropped. Death’s like that—it strips you bare. Death wasn’t here yet, but hearing he had cancer & was having chemo, I got in touch, reluctantly. My Hope with this man had been dashed so many times, it only stuck its longest feelers out, and tentatively at that.
Then there we were, the first time in my whole life, connecting directly without issues between us. That 40 minute phone call is one of the most precious gifts I’ve been given. Here in New Zealand the pohutakawas were in bloom & I tried to describe them to him. So even now, writing that word pohutakawa (even in a public cafe), I cry. It will be indelibly tied to that experience of communion with my father. At least there was that. And from that, Hope reared up its spiky bright head & I went on for two weeks thinking I’d actually have my father. I even bought a gift to send to him—a tree of life insignia–but he died first. Yggdrasil was such a significant symbol to my parents that they had it tattooed onto their ankles by some drunken lighthouse keeper in Nova Scotia, where I was conceived. In Nova Scotia, not the lighthouse.
And then, suddenly, he was gone. Dead. Not even a shred of possibility to speak with him again. What was even more eery was the letter that came in the post 4 days later, from him. That broke me wide open, wailing on the kitchen floor. Of course the line, ‘I missed you your whole life’, being the trigger for deeper upsurges of sobbing.
So, since then, since my brush with the Shadow of the Valley of Death, or however it goes, I’ve been living more. And this seems to be pretty reliable—until you’ve come face to face with dying, it’s likely you’re dying slowly daily. Ironic. I mean I had some exposure to death, drugs & darkness—maybe most young people are drawn to it to some extent. I lived in dangerous areas–North Philly & Harlem, worked with a private investigator when my cousin was killed/murdered, saw insanity & drug addiction at a young age, but truly feeling and smelling death breathe down your neck–that’s another beast.
So now I’m actively, consciously dying. It’s a slow process. May take my whole life.
What this means is that I’m dropping identity, dropping memory, dropping attachment. What this looks like currently is that I’m selling most of my things, many of which hold the memories of my life thus far. In their very fibers & visages, they hold the reminders of experiences, people, loves, pains, days, moments, ideas, plans. All of it. So the fear here is that I’m erasing my memory databank when I let go of the objects that trigger the memories. How will I know who I am if I can’t recall what I’ve done or where I’ve been or who I’ve known? And there’s been so much. I’ve been greedy with my relationship to life. I’ve done as much as I could for most of my life so far—packed it full. Now I’m emptying it out.
What if there’s nothing there when it’s empty? What if I am no thing when I am empty?
So you see, I’m dying. I’m killing myself off. What is strong, will remain. I suppose. But I don’t know. No one knows.
No one has any power over you since no one can stop death from keeping his date with you.