Death, A To Do List


No one talks about the meticulous chores that follow death, the seemingly vestigial arrangements that one must make without complaint, and without recollecting memories. How after one’s loved ones are gone, buried or burnt and prayed for, one must unsubscribe to the list of magazines and newsletters that keep making their way in through the letterbox. 

Someone must make calls or write letters to close family, and without losing their composure recite the date and time of the funeral. Those around you suddenly seem to look older than their age, wrinkled, sleep-deprived, and soap-smelling. An anonymous guest finds their feet in your kitchen and makes everyone tea, bereavers must eat. 

Often, the place where they once lived, laughed, moved with life in, comes to be settled with dust before someone remembers to clean and mop, contact a broker and sell the property. Things need to be given away, medical bills filed, insurances claimed and bank accounts closed. A police officer might visit to create a certificate of passing. An appropriate photograph is added to the mantlepiece, not one where they look too old, or too young, just right. What do you do with their coin collections and unopened box of assortment biscuits?    

Between the questions, the taxes, the law and the prayers, sometimes you forget that they are, after all, dead. Still made of skin and bones, but lesser in ways you cannot explain, even though all that is missing is breath. O2, Only Oxygen. It’s almost as if they left behind their papers and their home, unorganised and in need of caring, so that you can grieve without pain, live each day more easily than the last, and slowly heal yourself as you fall asleep tired and spent by dinnertime.  


Knock, Knock

ImageSo there is another year waiting at the door. Peeping from the window. Nailed on its toes trying vigorously to catch a glimpse from the pea hole. Greasing the welcome mat with its boots like a wild anxious hound. Excited and impatient like a little child. Honking and tootling the bell like a cornet. 2014 is just here.

This time around the year, you see a subtle retirement settling in people- the smell of a holiday, and the gingerness that drafting resolutions brings. The year that is passing starts withdrawing into the gaudy frame of a neat silver mirror, serving more memories and little reminders; the new year ahead – a welcoming window of undiscovered opportunities. And yet we swear by our soul, and fill our cups with resolutions and goals of all demeanours. Everything from resolving to grow thinner and more fit, and working harder on professional areas, adopting a pet, stop smoking or averring bad fortune, and becoming more spiritual, to finishing a novel that has gathered dust waiting on your bookshelf.

Some prepare themselves to step into the shoes of someone new, a father, a lover, a better student, a more promising employee…Goals suspended into thin air by chords of optimism, and determination. This period of time before the first of next year, is a pandemonium of dreams, conjectures and wishes, tall hopes and mighty ideas. The air has a whole new hue of buoyancy to it and the aura is filled with anxiety. Plans and haughty patchwork ready to make the most of the coming 365 days.

Our own conundrums entertain us this week. We find ourselves wondering what the year ahead will bring us, and little on what in the year ahead we may find. Pretty certain on what not to meet with- the conventional ways of ill-luck, sadness, and failure, and still pondering how to get there. With our own definitions of happiness, prosperity and success varied and needing patchwork, comes the custom of ending cards with ‘May the new year bring you gallons of the same.’ Old ones go down, and new calendars come up. The flowers in the vases change colour, and on the inside, we vicariously refurbish ourselves.

When I liquidate to the time I am in, I realize the amazing amount of prominence that the moment we are in has.

To me and many of us, these passing days are opportunities to leave behind bad memories, wrongs done, mistakes made, to say things left unsaid, and bury the hatchet for the future which comes not like every morning on each 1st January.

But if you think about it, it is just yet another morning, but it is the concept of completion that brings immediate warmth to the soul. The aspects of moving ahead bring ecstasy, and somewhere, parts of us, meet much wanted closure. But most of all, the New Year ahead, is an excuse for hope. Hope that is healthy and beautiful all the same. And thus an excuse, that is well needed.

Each New Year we swear to do accomplishable tasks, and decorate dreams for our future. However in the festivity we must not forget that in the very essence of another year, it is the spirit of beginning that we cherish, and the chi of what is to come that we celebrate. All of which remains unpredicted, and unsettled. Such is the furnace of hope, beaten to the core of human nature.

So, I hope you live to your resolutions, and I hope you remember that you cannot go back to the days of your future, so live and be happy, and fall in love and make mistakes, survive through what this year will bring- the good days and the bad ones, break rules and stay proud, and forget not, that this year will be extraordinary- just like each.

Well, as of now, I must leave, for the bell is ringing louder, and I must prepare to open the door. I say, you do too.