People Keep Dying

People
keep dying. There’s no stopping them. Other animals too – beloved pets,
neighbourhood critters that we can’t distinguish from other individuals of their kind. Their
time comes and goes and we really notice the ones who go too soon, or with too
much violence, or too much pain.

Every
culture on earth has explanations as to why and what happens afterwards. But I
don’t subscribe to any of those; the cosmic happenstance is enough to invoke my
awe. It’s taken years for me to properly grasp physics – long after my high school
teachers’ ill-fated attempts – but thanks to Brian Cox’s series’ I now know
that the sequence of events that have shaped this planet into its current form
are nothing short of miraculous. And each individual life on planet Earth –
plant, animal, microorganism – is incredibly unlikely and, therefore,
intrinsically valuable.

This
smacks somewhat to me because for many years I have thought of death as a sweet
release rather than something to be feared. When it’s over – no more pain, no
more fear, no more confusion, no more angst over failed attempts to communicate
and connect, no more frustration over the destructive social and environmental
paths we keep treading as a species.

This
welcoming approach to death, probably started with the car accident that
changed my life onto a different course, forced a different direction. When I
opened my eyes after that moment – the endless moments – of impact I was
genuinely surprised to be alive. And, yes, a little disappointed. Now I had to
go on.

I’ve
never attempted suicide, but I have contemplated how it might happen. In my
contemplations I could delve far into the notion because my imagination too
readily saw the pain it would cause my family. And sometimes that makes me feel
thwarted and angry.

Perhaps
I should talk to someone about that… or maybe that’s just a bit normal.

Life
is effort, struggle, failure, disappointment. But it’s also success, pride, happiness,
contentment, and pleasure.

And
so, I go on and I find myself repeatedly feeling the inevitable sorrow of
witnessing a loss of life or the imminent loss of life or even the far-distant
spectre of loved ones eventually failing and hoping I’ll go first so I don’t
have to feel the pain.

Right
now, my Dad has prostate cancer and is contemplating his options as the treatments
so far have failed to work as well as hoped. A friend has recently lost his Dad
after a long battle with the same and wonders if his Dad might have been better
off without treatment; might have had a better quality of life, even if that
life was shorter.

One
of my cousins who has bravely strived against juvenile arthritis all her life
is now falling into darkness.

Helen,
gone many years ago now, still lingers in my mind with her unique and often
insightful, perspective on the world. Carol, a passionate advocate for the
environment, is often in my thoughts. Eleanor, sweetheart and enthusiast for
life, still makes me smile. My dear Poppa, gone in 1990, ever in my thoughts.

We
moved to South Australia 30 years ago because of imminent death – my dear,
sweet, aunt who still warms me with her kindness.

I
don’t think I’m alone in walking alongside ghosts and memories. Hopefully I’m
not alone in having conflicting attitudes to death – to both welcome it for
myself and mourn it of others.

Last
week I lamented the loss of blue tongue lizards on my street and nearby streets
because who knows how few of them are left? I lament the loss of the people I
know because I love them. Does it matter why we lament?

I
am prepared for my own death but hugely inadequately prepared for that of
others around me.

Earlier,
a bee was stuck in the window, scrambling against the pane of glass, up and
down, bewildered by it’s failure to reach the light and freedom beyond, unable
to see how to get to the other side. I took a length of bark and gently placed
it by the bee, who climbed on. I ferried it to the door and held it up. It
flew, up and away, freed. It’s suffering over and who-knows-what to come. I
smiled.

DSCN2915 - Poppy

©
Palitja Moore, text and image ‘Poppies’, 2016

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