You really think about death at fifty six because your friends and rellies start popping off like pop corn in a hot pan.
One morning your eyes open suddenly you hear ringing
It is too early and your head doesn’t function
and the voice and name association bit of your brain hasn’t kicked in
and the disembodied voice is saying Uncle Mick is dead in hospital or Geoff has been found in bed cold
and then there is an explosion as all the senses kick in together
and he told no one he had cancer
and it is a shock
and the next thing you know you are wishing you had told people you loved them last time you saw them but they were asleep or you felt embarrassed
and now they are dead and its too late and nothing can be done
and you spend days crying
and you are wondering why you bought a box of tissues at the supermarket a week ago because you never do that
and was it just the design on the box or did you know subconsciously
or have some sort of premonition
that you would need something to mop up
your grief for your dead relative or friend
and you burst into tears as you unpack the dishwasher
or load up the washing machine
with laundry you wore a week ago while they were still alive
you cry because you were wearing this shirt
or that skirt when you saw them last
and your grown up children are disturbed when they find you against the sink in a slumped sort of way with floods on your cheeks
sodden tissues clenched in both fists
and it hurts all the longing and crying
and it goes on for days .
You wake with wet eyes and go to bed sobbing.
Your diary is a splatter of ink and you can’t read it anyway
you stop writing and become numb
and the tears dry up
and now you are in a daze
and cold sorrow turns into hot anger
against the person who is dead from the secret cancer, heart attack or crash.
You start yelling questions like
Why did you do it?
Shouldn’t you have told us?
You should have driven carefully.
You selfish old man!You stupid boy!
Don’t you know how you have hurt us?
At last you go to the funeral
and it might be your uncle but it is someone else’s father,
and it might have been your friend but it is someone else’s aunt
and it might have been your sister but it is someone else’s lover
and the dead are in a coffin in the ground in a beautiful box with gold handles and a crucifix
or hand painted with pastels by artistic sisters
or being turned to ash in a furnace.
It doesn’t really matter they are dead
and you are not
and the sun really hurts
and the sky is a mess
and the stars are all blurred
and although someone says the dead are in heaven
or being reincarnated into a butterfly
you don’t know how that works
and you are finding it hard to believe in anything anyway.
after all this the ceremony is over
and you have read a poem you have written you don’t know how
and it made other people start crying
and when it is time to shovel in dirt you cry out in a loud voice
“Fill it in boys!”
and “Dance on dear Thelma!”
or “Love goes with you baby James!”.
and you are glad it is all over but of course it is not
and you go on with it all still inside you
and so it will be until you die
and you think about death at fifty six because it is real
and it you know the voice
and you and death are practically pals.
and the more life goes on the more death seems to pop around like a visitor for afternoon tea
and you think about death at fifty six because you can’t change the default settings
as there are no other options on the drop down dead menu.