Aug 9, 2013
The Dying Man
When I was walking my cute little carefree dog today, I stumbled upon a scenery of four very young children playing in their garden. That little scenery, that beautiful image of those four children in a rundown garden, were powerfully chiseled in my mind for some reason. I couldn’t understand why all my worries were suspended, they went away, that moment I saw the innocents playing farmer, frolicking about with the land. The science lover in me, rationalized my sudden love for children of strangers, as an evolutionary trait of the species. This trait we have is to protect our own species, the survival of our own genes, and the survival of the genes of our cousins and those of the same kind. We protect the young. Even in the animal world, we protect and we love the young. Maybe it really is evolution, but I just can’t describe that very short moment of bliss, and lack of worry, as if nothing I was going through was important at all, as long as those four children were alright, healthy, and grew up well. Their innocence captivated the old and withered soul I bear, especially lately, and washed away all years.
I lost my uncle, my only uncle, tonight. He was barely alive, living through atrocious pain, the worst disease in the world that can afflict a human. He’s not even my uncle, but since my mother had only sisters, my aunt told us to call and love her husband as our uncle. I loved him very much. The year that I lived with them in Greece, I fought with him so many times for stupid things, but I did love him very much. He was my uncle.
I remember when we were travelling somewhere when I was a child, more people than one car can take and I was sitting in the front sit with uncle. I remember that day he and dad came with Kalashnikovs to protect the women and the children in 1997, and he was wearing a Russian ushanka. Thinking about that little scene just makes me laugh while crying, and cry while laughing. I remember his glass he used for his daily frappe. That was his glass and not to be touched. I remember him spending hours concentrated on the TV while playing the lottery. I remember him always being with dad accompanying him while dad went from town to town to work, and he was dad’s chief, and dad was his chief. And I was the younger chief. I used to call dad Fred, and him Barney. They were Fred and Barney.
But Barney wasn’t Barney anymore. I couldn’t bear see him like that. I didn’t want to say goodbye, so I postponed meeting him until one week ago I decided to grow up and stop whining and go see him. I tried to comfort him. I tried to make it look as if he was fine. But he was dying. And he wasn’t content. He wasn’t ok with it. He wasn’t bargaining, or he wasn’t depressed. He wasn’t even angry, or whatever other stupid steps of grief there are. He was all of those things. He felt pity. He felt pity for himself. Just as we all do.
It is just such a pity that we come here, and we love people, and we meet people, and we create beautiful things, such as children, families. We come here and we put so much energy in this life. And then without a warning we’re given the red card. You’re out! It’s your time to leave. And we don’t want to leave, and we don’t want the people we love to leave either. But that’s life.
Looking at my dog, I feel jealous that he doesn’t know what death is.
At one moment I even started believing in a divine, and I don’t know whether it is a fluke, or a life changing moment.
When my grandfather died, I had seen him before in the hospital, but I didn’t go to say goodbye where the life force was leaving his body. I didn’t want to say goodbye.
I said goodbye without speaking a word to my uncle. Just as I had once caressed my grandfather’s white hair, feeling that he was so small and tender and sweet like a child, I did caress and kiss my uncle’s forehead. He was so small and so pitiful and I felt that I wanted to be stronger and bigger to take in his pain, but I couldn’t. We can’t share the pain of others, no matter how much we try. We all have enough to bear for ourselves. We’re full. We can’t take in anymore.
The things people say when people die. He finished. He passed away. He’s gone. I never understand why they can’t just say the word. I can’t say the word either. In any other circumstance you can say it, but when you lose a loved one that word is just so unbearable and too heavy to pronounce.
That last image of that thin man lying on a fetus position…the image of the children playing in the yard…my dog’s loving, comforting eyes…
It’s just life…that’s how it is. I lost an uncle. My aunt lost a husband. My father lost a friend. My cousin lost a father. His unborn child lost a grandfather she’ll never meet, just as I never met my granddad from mum’s side. And they will tell her stories of him. And I will tell her stories of him. I’ll tell her of this funny man who yelled Malacas at everything and everyone. I’ll tell her of this man who got super angry for I washed my sneakers in the washing machine once. I’ll tell her of my uncle who always made jokes, and made fun of dad. I’ll tell her of that man who my aunts called Koci, as a funny character from an old movie, when he first came to their house, and they used to laugh at that, as young girls often do. I’ll tell her of the man who died too soon and broke our heart with his passing. I’ll tell her of the man who one crazy day, in a crazy time in our shaky country, came with a Kalashnikov, wearing a Russian hat, feeling all manly, while looking so hilariously funny.
Sometimes the images in our head, the memories that we store, carry such burden. I want to carry his memory for as long as I live and keep him alive. His life was important. What he did on this earth was the most important journey of the history of mankind, and the history of the universe, for all our lives and all our stories, and all our footprints on this earth are the most important stories, the most important footprints.
We live this life forgetting how we’re only passing passengers passing through, and we all stop one day, with burden and heaviness of the journey. I hope that when the soul leaves the body, if there is such a thing in any futuristic understanding of physics and biology, and whatever other science, I hope that the burden transforms into weight, into mass, into rich mass of love and beautiful energy. The children are so young and unburdened and we protect them so their stories can continue. We grieve the passing of those who lived, because life, no matter how long is never enough. The dying man is like a child, but a child with a burden…the burden of life…the burden of death…the self-pity for not being able to stick around and be healthy and happy…and the anger that the clock is stopping…and there’s nothing to do about it…
The dying man’s image is the most important image imprinted in my mind. For the innocent children might lift my burden with their light carelessness, but the dying man fills my soul with all the love and all the life and all the energy and story of a lifetime, and all the possibilities, and all the dreams, and the fantasies, and the desires, and the wishes…and all that a human is….The dying man is life itself. The face of the last stop. The end that contains all that ever was before it.
Rest in peace gentle soul. We will carry your legend, your story, your life, your soul for you. We will miss all that you never were, and all that you could had ever been, and all the seconds you didn’t get to breathe.
Rest gentle soul. We will carry your burden. We will carry your soul.