Monday, December 22, 2008

Autumn is to fall...

My beautiful grandmother has lived to the lovely, ripe old age of 85 - a life jam-packed full of experiences, perhaps I'll tell you all about them one day.

How is it though that some people are blessed with longevity and some are not? A young man who lived with us last year died yesterday in a car crash whilst on his way home to his family for Christmas, travelling with friends from high school, friends he had known since he was a teenager, friends from his home-town who he had undoubtedly missed whilst at University, but with whom he was reunited on this trip. It would seem that he had done the unexpected and died from 'youth', rather than, the over-used and redundant, 'old-age'. He had been having fun with friends, likely chatting and listening to tunes before tragedy struck. Within hours his mother had thoughtfully instructed someone to post on his facebook wall to prevent anyone from being in the distressing situation of sending an inappropriate message in a time of loss and sadness. Yet immediately his wall was filled with missives of grief directed to him - it seemed trite to me, but here I am blogging about it. This is no better; it is derivative at best and disrespectful at worst. However, the point of this blog is to encourage honesty and dialogue, to talk about the things that have strangled us for so long, kept us quiet and ignorant. This blog is intended to stimulate discussion; not necessarily on this page, but at least in your own consciousness and with your own conscience, within your friendship groups and family gatherings. There are some words which are too difficult to get out, because you know that once spoken they can never be retrieved and put back in hiding. There are some things you only want to have to tell once, if ever, and preferably never if that option is available. So this post is not to dissect the meanings of a young man's death, but maybe to ask each of us what is life worth and to that end, in the end, what is death worth? Can we live by the motto that each second must count, filled with excitement, joy, productivity, or can we slip into quiet submission of routine and regularity, never expecting the worst and unprepared, with many unfulfilled wishes, when it happens?

Annually, or more frequently, I have an epiphany when I decide I really must stop fucking around and get on with my life. At 27 years of age it is high time to know what you want and how to get it. Even if that goal changes in a wee whiley or is dull once achieved, at least let there be drive and passion and determination to succeed; at least don't let the endless days drift on by as unloved and forgotten leaves from a year-tree, comfortable that there are many more seasons and many new leaves to count on, that there is no hurry since you can wait until next spring for the leaves of life to matter, to make the most of then, of now.

How foolish, how reckless to waste the now. How reckless not to be reckless, not to be brave and not to try. This young man was extraordinary, yet will his loss impact more of us more profoundly than a longer life might have done? Will there be more lessons learned from this sad day than by seeing him mature further and grow old, as so many had planned for him to do? What a terrible thought to consider the end of his life more affective than the living of it.

Writing a condolence message to his family was as difficult as one might imagine it would be. I wanted to convey how amazing he was and how missed he would be. But I was conscious that reminding them of the greatness that was lost would only open further the wounds and protract the healing. Would it be better not to spin anecdotes of the fun times, or should they know for sure how special he was to everyone he met? I chose the latter. I painted a picture in words of the last time I saw him amidst his University friends, how treasured he was. It seems strangely fitting that my abiding memory of this energetic man is of him crammed in a bunch of excited people moshing on a dance floor, many with glow-sticks raised high. He is the centre of attention as old friends swarm to greet him; he is loved.

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