It’s been a strange few days; stranger than my usual strangeness if you catch my drift.
The passing away of someone unexpectedly, too soon-though I guess it’s always too soon for the loved ones left behind-left me dwelling endlessly on the timeless question of life after death and death in general…
The person in question was not a close friend or immediate member of my family but she was connected to us in a personal way and her own circumstances were similar to my own; as a mother, a single parent bringing up two children alone and knowing some of the background, well I empathized on many levels: To die before having the opportunity to see her offspring move into full maturity and perhaps one day have a family of their own; and to die before her own mother, whose grief I witnessed first- hand, no parent expects their child to die before them. A tragedy that is played out every second of every day all around us-and at some point it comes to each and every one of us.
As I sat contemplating the place I later named Dead hotel I was struck by how clinical and detached everything seemed-the stark ugliness of the industrial estate around us, graffiti sprawled walls, grey and colorless, so far removed from what in my mind should be a place to mourn the passing of a loved one. A hotel for the dead; each with their own room- glass panel separating the corpse from its loved ones, a sitting room for the mourners, toilets, bar, shop and on-sight crematorium: Perhaps it’s just a necessary service, perhaps I’m too sensitive, perhaps not everyone perceives it to be as surreal as I do-or maybe it really is as mad and perverse as I perceive it to be! I had the uncanny feeling I was living a scene out of ‘Brave new world’ or even ‘1984’-big brother present and controlling even in death.
Yes I have too much imagination-call me over sensitive too if you wish-but something just does not seem remotely right in the way death is played out here in the West-or in some places in the West I should at least clarify. No matter what, your religious, spiritual or non- belief-I believe a more natural, simplistic, dignified passing to be more fitting. Sadly, one’s economic status even in death is tragically relevant- Spain is statistically the second most expensive place in Europe to die! Ironic really given it’s also one of the worst hit by the economic recession. Never ends, does it? Bitter sweet symphony springs to mind.
I began writing this some time ago -and finish whilst already grieving for the imminent departure of my grandmother from this world-end of an era-end of a generation. I hope her send -off is more humanistic, down to earth, with room for smiles and laughter amongst the grief-as we remember her life; her pink fluffy slippers, her sense of humor, her stubbornness, down the pub in her wheelchair, beer in hand wearing the infamous slippers that I of course forgot to remove before leaving the house-anecdotes that will remain with us for years to come. Life is short-too short for some-my gran however has lived a long and full life-a life tinged in parts with sadness and difficulty but also with happiness, good fortune and love. And one thing more importantly-a sense of humor-this is one family trait I shall endeavor to continue no matter what!
A PLASTIC SHELL
A DISTANT SONG-ESSENCE LONG GONE
SNATCHED FROM THIS LIFE-UNNECESARY STRIFE
GOODBYE MY LOVE, WITH ME FOREVER, YET ABOVE