November 26th, 2005


He cometh up and is cut down like a flower

You know, I've always said that I don't fear death. I've had to revise that opinion in the last few days. I don't fear my death (though of course I'd like it to be as calm and comfortable as possible), because, after all, either it'll All Be Over and there'll be nothing left of me to be unhappy, or it'll be the next stage of An Awfully Big Adventure.

What I fear is other people's deaths. It's a completely selfish fear, I know, but it's none the less real for that. For a person with depression I have rather a large Micawberish streak: no matter how grim the situation, there's always a chance that it'll all come right. Death takes away – or so far as we mortals can tell – that chance. It's factual, unalterable, irremediable, irrevocable, the Thief of Possibility.

Pretty much the last thing tals said to me was Y'know, you should come visit when you can... we really didn't get enough time to chat in Whitby. He was right: we didn't. We were too busy living, which is just as it should be. Nobody (except maybe teenagers and the Illuminati) thinks that they're immortal, but we do generally live as though we were, with reasonable, if finite and unknown, quantities of sand in our glasses.

I'm old enough to have known my share of deaths. The majority of them have been of people who have, one way or another, been pretty ill or pretty old, and their deaths, if not always expected, haven't come as a bolt from the blue; in fact, plenty of times death has been a relief for both the person most concerned and for the people around them. I was glad when my grandmother finally died after years of strokes that reaved away everything of her but her body. The others, though... the senseless, abrupt, tearings-away... they are the ones I fear. Even if later they turn out to have had rational causes – the embolism, the aneurysm, the unsuspected defect – they still seem unreasonable, arbitrary, even cruel.

I'm sorry, Tal, if I'm being an idiot about this. I dreamed about you today, you know? You were being buried, and everyone was doing the handful of earth thing. When it came to my turn, I found I was crumbling a bar of Lush hair glitter over you instead, and it felt like just the right thing to be doing. Even in the sad days, you always had a shine to you. I'll stop being crap soon, promise.
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