Dance of death, by Kazuya Akimoto.
Ecchoes of last week’s tragic train crash in Galicia are still ringing around. Remembrance of the victims, their fear; their families’ pain, the tragedy; volunteer’s dedication, human solidarity; the burden of responsability for the accident, mankind errors…
There will always be a train, a plane, a car, a wildfire, a weapon, a diagnosis to set the end of a life. A life that was full of possibilities until that very moment. Quite often the ones who stay here feel that we don’t know what to do with that unexpected, tough, cold, sharpen & painful thing that has happened. Our mind understands sometimes, others it doesn’t, and it will keep searching for explanations that will never be sufficient. Our heart knows because it feels, and it stays there, looking for shelter, letting itself be. Sometimes with anger & despair, others surrendering to life’s reality, knowing that only time & calmness can ease the pain of that deep wound.
It is hard to let go your loving ones. Even harder if their departure dresses with deathly robes, if it comes suddenly and even more if it is a violent one.
In our catholic, Mediterranean, family orientated & attached culture, we hardly learn to coexist with death, seeing it as the natural fact that it is. In the contrary, death always shows loaded of mourning & grief, scary skulls, gloomy scythe & stalking shadows, words which are not spoke & taboos, weepers & unnecessary suffering. What’s the point of that vision? How is serving us? How can it help us to overcome the absence & the unavoidable pain that we are going to feel?
Look how beautiful she was, by Julio Romero de Torres.
Death walks along with us every step of the way and it touches us in a thousand ways, until it finally comes to get us at the end. That’s its task and our fate. We come here to live fully during the time we have, according to our purposes. Then, when our time comes, we just go to leave space to the new born that is already pushing through. Just like trees, flowers, plants & cereal do. We go through our life seasons, following our own nature call, even when leaving in the middle of spring doesn’t apply to our ideal concept of living. Some of us arrive to stay around for a long time, surviving wars, famines & concentration camps. Some, in the other hand, live for a sigh, and their lives are not less significant because of that.
Sleep and his half brother Death, by John Williams Waterhouse.
A few death anniversaries come for me during these summer weeks. I find useful to stare death in the eye and have these souls very present, as they meant something or a lot to me. Today I think of (and I mention them according to their chronological age when dying) Wilma, Dave, Charo, Paul, Peter, my grandfather Antonio, Grandad Barker… I carry all in my heart and in my thoughts.
Because those anniversaries are already arriving and also because I see the images of those families going through their grieving process, I remember intensely how I felt and what was more useful & comforting to me, what did I value above everything else: physical presence & contact. No need of words or made up formulas of condolence. Only company, just being there available for a touch, for a hug.
A hug can create such a connection that can go beyond words, beyond explanations, beyond what happened and what never occurred… How valuable a hug can be! Even more at painful times. More powerful than any painkiller. Free of charge. Without any type of contraindications or expiry date. Welcome to devoted, tight, warm, soft, free embraces…
Life & death will keep moving ahead. They will find us here, holding hands, embraced, united. Always together.
“What is this life? A frenzy.
What is this life? An illusion,
a shadow, a fiction,
and the greatest good becomes small;
all of life is but a dream,
and dreams are only dreams.”
(Segismundo’s monologue, act III – esc. XIX from Life is a dream, by Pedro Calderón de la Barca)