Friday, March 06, 2009

Realization of Death

I have often wondered how we understand the concept of death.

When my grandfather passed away in 1990 I was only 6years old. My twin and I were rushed out of our classroom and taken home. As we came into the living room I saw my grandfather lie on the floor covered with white sheets. To me he looked sound asleep and I wondered why he wouldn't just wake up when there were so many people around him.

We wandered from one room to another noticing that crying was a common practice in all of them. She saw my bewildered expression and said "He's never coming back again." I didn't understand what she meant so I replied "From where?"
And she shushed me down.

It was 1995 and my family had broken its journey in Delhi on their way to seeing us twins off to Welham, a girls boarding school in Dehradun.
I had a strange dream that night. I was in a battlefield and my neck had been slashed open - causing my head to continuously tilt backwards because of lack of support. It was gruesome. I ran from soldier to soldier in the dream, asking them to stitch me back so that I could carry on fighting against the enemy, but no one could hear or see me.
This was the first time I understood death.

The next day I hung on to my aunt, mum & dad throughout the journey, continuously stroking them to make sure they were there (looking at family members with a fear of losing them can be highly traumatizing for a 10year old).
I have tried to re-dream that battlefield for as long as I can remember, but I still haven't been able to stitch my neck back.

Death is the end of life whether we acknowledge it or not.
Even though I am bad at saying goodbyes, I think its realization ever since that day gave me the freedom and strength to dream, be fearless of losing people or moving places, because in the end we stand alone to leave and gather memories of those we love.

1 comment:

Stephen Pickering said...

Hey Xippy!,

I lost my father on March 1st, ironically enough my birthday. It was a world turning upside down experience. We talked like ten times a day all my life. I've always had this phobia of dead bodies, so the day he died I didn't think I could go into the room. But something carried me there, and it was weird, instead of being a grueling, grotesque experience, it was a spiritual experience in a positive way. I kissed him. My sister was speaking to him. He seemed "there" I almost felt I could bring him back to life if I were just a few more steps along in my spiritual journey. I don't know how to explain it. But it did give me peace, and I've held together surprisingly well ever since.

If I were Jung or Freud analyzing your dream I'd surely say your head symbolized the "Ego" and really the enemy was inside, the Ego wanting to put itself back on, wanting to "fight"

Sometimes I think its the dead who are alive and the living who are dead. I don't know where I get that thought. It just comes to me from time to time.
Or at least I feel its some sort of continuum going on. Sometimes I think "How can anyone really die? What happens to their memories?"

I think I'll make this into a blog post, I write such long comments. I'm glad I ran across your topic. It's prescient for me at this time.

Stephen