~ Trigger Alert ~
I have never feared death.
But yet I fear change.
I feel the pain of loss and mourn those who have passed.
Some I wish were still here. Was it really their time to go?
Death, our attitudes to it, well, that’s a curious thing. We like to pretend in our sophistication that death does not come to us all; we like to believe that we can hold back the inevitable like Cnut or, more successfully, the Dutch dyke boy.
Yet death comes.
There is this bleak realisation that slowly come into my mind a few months ago and has never really left it since: I never planned on getting old.
It is this thought, this feeling that now often surfaces, an unshakeable, disquieting companion, in the lonely or painful or sleepless or dark moments that I pass through. Yet, I don’t really have the words, or even the consciousness, to describe it.
There have been moments in these last few months when I have faced the bleakest moments of Old Age; my physical body is failing me terribly (ironically at just this time when my psychological self seems stronger than ever) and I struggle to do the most basic of things. At times, everything is so difficult and painful.
So I ask myself: Why am I still here?
Actually, more often, I ask myself how. How am I still here?
You see, I never planned on being a grown up, I couldn’t envision such a distant, alien time. And now, apparently, I am one. Due to years, at least.
And this year I have found myself feeling like a grown up, or at least, like what I think feeling like a grown up feels. I am old and weary. And I don’t like this feeling.
What happened to all the time between here and there?
Since when did that inconceivable there get so close then arrive?
I don’t know.
I never thought that I would be a grown up.
I thought that I would die young.
Maybe it was the morbid fancy of youthful depression and too many romantic concepts of invalidity born of stories.
Do the good die young or is it more just for the wicked to be allowed to leave before too long, before too late? Is death a punishment or a reward? Is death a climax, a culmination or is it an excuse, an easy way out? Is death for the brave or for the cowards?
I still don’t know.
I didn’t fear the evil word that is Cancer, I am pragmatic about such diseases and their outcomes. I feared earlier evils in my naïve, backwards mind: consumption, perhaps; unseen, little understood spectres that took without discretion, who wreaked havoc in swathes and left no survivors.
(Even as I write this, Beth’s words from Little Women echo in my head still).
I feared hospitals. I still do. Hospitals are places of suffering, in my mixed up, dark mind, where everything is taken out of your hands, out of your control and given to nameless, shapeless deities, revered by some in society. I fear them. Hospitals are dark and dirty, hospitals are places of other languages and other worlds, hospitals are places of loss, hospitals are a place of another kind of death, the loss of self. I never want to be in a hospital.
I had no dreams for the future, just this certain, unshakeable belief that I would be gone. But now I find myself here and I ask why and I ask how.
Do I want to die? I still don’t know the answer to that. I just know that I do not want to be here.
Do I wish I was dead? I still don’t know the answer to that. I just know that I do not want to be here and the future, well, there is no future, just a continuation of days, of months and of years. This is not a future, I have no more hope. I dream and wish for nothing. At the very best, I survive. And I’ve had enough even of that.
Am I Depressed? No more so than usual. I would not call myself suicidal; I know and recognise the tug at my heart that comes briefly when the Depression is not so bad and my mind is clear, determined and resolved. A reactive Depression that still has the motivation, the willpower to act. I know too that suicide is not the worst of feelings because most often my Depression sinks far, far lower into a never-ending, murky abyss. I don’t fear feeling suicidal either. There is worse. Much worse.
I have, as with so many things in life, two standards. One for me, one for the rest of the world. I’ve always had this dual outlook. I will stand by your side through all your sufferings; I will not leave you. Death is not something that anyone should face alone.
I fear endings just as I fear change.
It was me and my father who took our dog to the vet’s one early morning when I was still a teenager. I understood that the others had duties, responsibilities elsewhere and I respected that. It is only within the last few days that a passing remark on a television programme made me think again, review this episode. Apparently, most people don’t want to watch their pets fall asleep. Well, of course not. I understand that much. But to not be present? I don’t understand that. I had no concept of it then and I struggle to comprehend it now. I am not a macabre, sick-minded person who takes pleasure in viewing the end, a end but rather, I see quiet respect and dignity in accompanying someone, something at that moment. Even just an animal. Maybe it was duty or responsibility that kept the others away. But maybe it was duty or responsibility that prompted both of us to stay in that room to the very, very end and beyond.
(We went home and poured ourselves generous tots of brandy to steel ourselves and never spoke of it again).
I feel sad that I was not up in the night for the myxy rabbit which passed in our care. We had brought him home late one night as he was too ill to get out of the road and fixed him up comfortable quarters but knew there was little hope. I felt I had abandoned him in his hour of need when he passed whilst we slept, unconscious. But hopefully, not uncaring.
But for me?
I want to go quietly, as in alone.
I don’t want any fuss or spectacle. I don’t believe that I will be missed.
I just want to slip away, somewhere quiet and lonely, away from everything and everyone and for it to end.
I don’t even know if I want to be found.
(I don’t know if I can be found).
Since I barely had double figures, I have always written a Will and in it I have stated that I do not want a funeral, I want to be chucked in a river and forgotten about. Although I am pretty sure that the Environment Agency would have something to say about that.
Is it Depression? Is it morbidity? I don’t know. I am weary though and not getting any younger or more well. I am not likely to ever be well again. And happiness has always been the most fleeting of experiences in my life. I have survived until now and now, I don’t want to anymore.
I want this to end.
Does that make me wicked?
I don’t know.
Does that make me selfish?
I don’t know.
Does that make me weak?
I don’t know.
Death comes. But it hasn’t come to me.
And I don’t understand why not.
(I only recently came across this post and I feel terrible for not reading it at the time. I hate not being there before people).
A more recent post from another blogger on a similar subject.