Monday, March 04, 2013

Death is part of life, and all that crap

I’m not talking about my death here: I am not afraid of dying, I’d just rather not do it quite yet. I want to see if my younger grandson becomes the comedian he wants to be, and if my elder grandson becomes – based on his current proclivities - a palaeontologist, an astronomer or (please God not) a banker:

and if Lux becomes the first Californian nudist pianist, as she so loves running around naked, and just look how long her fingers are:
and what becomes of smiling Cecilia:
happy cece
And I would also like to see some more of America, to play my sax in a flashmob, to turn down an offer from a publisher, and to see if Microsoft ever get their act together so I don’t regret not replacing my PC for an Apple (oh how I detest Windows Picture Viewer).
No. The title of this post relates to the death of a loved one and the things people say in a misguided attempt to cheer you up when you’re bereaved.There IS no comfort, or as one of my characters in PLOTTING FOR GROWN-UPS says about something else -
Thank God for Richard. He sees hardship for what it is. He understands the darker side of life. He does not try to pretend that horrible things that happen are anything other than horrible things that happen. He does not buff them up into shining opportunities, he doesn’t frame them as transforming planetary transits which are for the ultimate good of the inner self, like Wendy does (God help her). Richard sees crap for what it is.
Death may be “part of life” but that doesn’t make the death of someone you love a happy, pleasurable or even an acceptable experience. Clearing up vomit, dealing with exploding nappies, and the pains of childbirth are part of being a mother, but does that make them nice? At least there’s a baby involved. With bereavement, all you get is a vast black hole (even if there is the relief of not having to put up with someone who uses Zoflora in the kitchen so your dish cloth stinks and the work surfaces taint every bit of food you absentmindedly put on them – a fairly trivial blessing, I think I can live without.)
When I was grieving for my father, the most comforting piece of writing I found on the subject was not that “I am just in the next room” rubbish (to which I always wanted to retort – “Well why don’t you walk in here where I can see you, then?”) but this poem here, because it told the truth:
Dirge Without Music
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, - but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Edna St. Vincent Millay


marmee said...

Hey there sue....completely off subject I know but wondered if you had taken note of the documentary called The Gatekeepers? Interesting and surprising views on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories by the past CEO's of the internal intelligence organisation?

Sue Hepworth said...

Hi Marmee, yes I have read about this - it was nominated for an Oscar along with Five Broken Cameras, also about the occupation. But I have not seen either of them yet. I hope to rectify that soon.

ndenim said...

Sue, Sue, Sue,

Lux lives in CA. I'd be willing to bet, if it can be done nude, it already has. I.E., the Bay to Breakers race. It wouldn't be a first, because they can and they do and, sigh, some would look so much better if there were just a little mystery as to what they might look like without clothes. :-). Sorry to dash your hopes, but she may not be the first!

Sarah Ibberson said...

Quite bloody right. People do talk such nonsense about death, hiding behind language and letting each other off the hook with euphemisms. Thank you for the poem, of which I was not previously aware.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Sarah. Yes, it's been done ad naseum at Bay to Breakers we are talking about prime toddler bottom, not saggy old bird bottom. There is a difference.


Sue Hepworth said...

Oh well, I did wonder -as Lux does live in San Francisco.

Thanks for the endorsement, Sarah, about useless euphemisms.