I have time today, my husband is not at home, so i can write a bit. Funny, isn’t it? When you’re alone, you long to have a family. When you have a family, you’re happy to be able to be alone … for a short while. Ok, just joking.
I’ve been thinking about her coming death recently, it upsets me. She’s 89, anyone could say that she’s lived a long life. But compares to how she functions as a 89 years old, you can expect her to live 10 more years.
I’ve never been able to talk with her, as i don’t speak Polish yet. But she’s a heart-warmer. I love sitting in her tiny flat. Her chairs crack and sway a bit when we sat down. She has lovely flowery tea napkins. Almost everything stays the same in her flat every time we visit. Old and intimate and cosy. I think i love old people. Small details mean much to them, you’ve got to be slow and sensitive in their small world. Like looking at life through a loupe.
And because i don’t understand almost anything she’s saying, i can only watch her. I like the way she moves around her short and big body, the way she nervously brings brim-full tea cups to the table, taking care she doesn’t spill out any, the way she speaks, every word slowly and clearly, the way she looks at Nhim, my husband. I love her slow-motion world. I can’t believe it will end.
My husband was speaking about his father’s death the other day, not so long before we heard news about her. How his father was thinking he lived an unhappy, unlucky life. And i was trying to consolate my husband, saying he had a peaceful death.
What do a person think when they know they will soon die? Noone wants to die, but in fact it’s a good thing you know in advance about it. So you can prepare to complete your life. It’s not so much of our control to live a long life, or a happy one, but if you can live a complete one, it’s already a luck. Just think about those who die in accidents. One moment before they’re thinking about any trivial, stupid things like, what’s for dinner, how will they prepare a report tomorrow at work, the kitchen sink is block, etc. And the moment later, they die. Such sudden death is a tragedy. Just think, your death is the full stop to your life, the very last bit of your life, and it’s ripped away from you, without your consciousness. Stolen.
If you know that you will die, and still have time and energy to prepare for it, you can do what you really want to do in your life. You won’t bother to think of work report, or kitchen sink, you may travel to a place you’ve always wanted to go but never find the time, meet someone, say something you never dared to say, settle your inheritance, for example, whatever you do, you control to the every last bit of your life. It’s a success already.
And most important of all, you have a chance to reflect your life. Whether you’re happy with your life or not, it’s a sense of accomplishment to be able to look back at it as a whole. And in fact it doesn’t really matter how many cars you bought, if you live in a flat, or a villa, or a rented room, whether you die a director or a homeless, after you die, it’s all the same.
I was in operations twice, the most recent one, i remember as they put the gas mask over my nose, i was thinking how this gas which makes me sleep smells. Nice or disgusting, or does it has any smell at all. But all i did was inhaling it, trying to detect any smell, and the next blink of my eye, i was already in another room, and the clock was 2 hours later. I remember i said to the nurse:” Oh, already over? So quick?” I had no impression of time that passed, not like when you sleep, you still know that time has passed. Here it’s like those 2 hours was simply cut off from my life. Mentally I didn’t exist in those 2 hours, I was basically dead.
So I guess that’s how death will feel like. Whether people will bring flowers to your grave and cry and will miss you, or talk about you years after, or spit on your grave, it in fact doesn’t matter to you at all, because you no longer exist and you don’t know. The verb ‘matter’ applies only to those who are alive, who still think, feel and care. Their flowers and tears at your grave are in fact for themselves, to ease their own pain, their spitting is to ease their own anger. None of those touches you anymore.
The only thing that does matter to the one who dies, is perhaps the last moment. When they’re in front of the full stop of their life, still alive but almost no longer belongs to this world. I don’t think you can/ or have time to think much in this last moment. Maybe it is rather a feeling/an impression rather than a concrete thought that lingers on in your mind. Of whether you did everything you could in your life, given your own situations, whether you regret anything you could have done, or shouldn’t have done. I guess it’s a bitter feeling to regret, as you know there’s no future to reverse it, or to make up for it. Our failure and loss becomes eternity. And we are taught all our life to believe that we can change things, we can make things happen, so we should be bound to hate being small and helpless in front of eternity.
But we are.
So better is not to have to regret anything in this last moment.
Which in turn means that while we’re still alive, and still are lucky enough to bother ourselves with stupid things like blocked kitchen sink or a frowning boss instead of eternal regret, we’d better live such that we can be sure there’s nothing more we could do better in our life, given our situation.
As after that last moment, nothing will matter.
That’s why i think his dad had a peaceful death, and a complete life. And in fact a much better one than death of many professional accomplished people whom he may have envied.
And I believe his aunt will too be able to be content with how she has lived her life. And it’s what the meaning of living is all about, being able to be content with your life, to yourself, in that lonely last moment.