Anniversaries You’d Rather Not Celebrate

It’s true, I’m obsessed with death. Not in the suicidal teen angst sort of way or the inventing my own death sort of way but just in the sense that death is a mystery and a guarantee; we know we’re gonna die we just don’t know how or when and so there’s lots to ponder.  Maybe everyone’s like that or maybe it’s just me and a handful of my weirdo friends. My friend Peg, who also lost a parent in her 20’s and who works as a nurse in a palliative care unit at Mass General, and I always have these long conversations about the art of dying and the sometimes sneaky unsuspecting approach death takes. Maybe it’s because she watches/helps people die for a living or maybe it’s because we’ve buried some pretty key players in our lives, her father a heart attack, my brother an asthma attack and five years later, almost to the day, my mother lost a quick and gruesome battle to pancreatic cancer. Maybe it has something to do with being raised on wakes and funerals in the Irish Catholic tradition or our sacred Sundays spent staring at a dead man dangling from a cross….I dunno. me and my angels….

All I do know is that as long as I can remember I’ve been mulling over the fleetingness of life prior to my first hand knowledge of it, I distinctly remember waking up in my childhood room with the realization that being the youngest of five children with a 20 year age spread I would most likely be the last one standing. Scary thoughts when you’re 10 years old, but then again I was a wee bit dramatic, I also held a candle light vigil for a dying squirrel that our dog had dragged back to the house complete with a funeral pyre made of sticks and twigs. And to this day I am obsessed with songs about dying (for those of you who share my obsession THE ANTLERS Hospice is amazing album along with Sufjan Stevens’s Casmir Pulaski Day). Anyway, this week is the anniversary of both my mother and brother’s departures so I tend to reflect on life and death, on their lives lived and the one I’m carving out for myself, trying to remember all the key lessons I learned from their comings and goings. Grief is a crazy thing with this almost addictive quality, not to say that I want anymore of it but just that in those moments of sadness you feel more alive and are completely present with a clear sense of what is and what is not important in this short and fragile life of ours. So on this week of anniversaries I’d rather not celebrate, do what you love, be who you are and don’t give a fook, life’s short and all that shit…

For other more sentimental thoughts read Death in July


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