“She is starting more and more to believe that a soul, if it exists at all, won’t travel so much as it will spread.
Widen out in all directions at once.
Soon to have the scant awareness of wind.”
– from The World by Bill Gaston
Every time I think I’m doing something original?
Every single time, I’m just part of a general trend.
Not once have I been anything other than a cog in the zeitgeist wheel. From macrame, to bread-makers. From hula hoops to Flashdance aerobic wear (You know it baby – I had it all – headband, turquoise velour track suit, arm warmers, leg warmers – the works).
Later, there was the sipping-of-quality-tequila trend that I genuinely believed I started.
When we first got our Dalmatian, we were simply another set of DILDOs (Double Income Large Dog Owners) back when they first coined the term. Thankfully the acronym has mostly fallen into disuse.
I’m now learning the ukulele. So. Of course.
And now that I’m going to be taking hospice training, death is suddenly de rigueur.
But for once, I am so far ahead of the curve I’m almost leading it. I’ve been hopping on headstones since I was no higher than a cross in a cemetery. (Not sure whose funeral it was, but I do remember my mother yanking the back of my arm and bringing me to heel. That was when I learned that I was not supposed to jump on the headstones. To be fair, I was very young and incredibly bored. There was a hole and lots of dirt and I swear I only jumped from one flat headstone to the next, but still, Mom was fairly peeved).
Before I was old enough for school, I can remember hanging out at home, listening to the radio. The bronze and cream Philco sat on the little shelf to the right of the sink. The sink’s window overlooked the red swing set and our huge cherry tree. That radio was always on, but Mom especially tuned in when the CFVR funeral announcements came on.
Because. Oh my yes. There’s nothing like a good funeral announcement (which, quite conveniently, followed the hog market report).
At church, which we attended endlessly, most of the congregation showed up for funerals. Back then, wedding invitations often included an invitation from the pulpit requesting the presence of the entire church. This meant, that aside from the woman in white coming up the aisle, or the coffin at the front, the crowd was pretty much the same.
Afterwards, whether a wedding or a funeral, everyone gathered in the the cool of the church basement where there was thin coffee, buns and squares. People got up to share their stories about either a) the happy couple, or b) the deceased.
Always, a dizzying amount of coffee was ingested.
I remember the moment when I realized that not everybody grew up like this. It was grade eight. I had a new friend over and we were looking through the thick black pages of our photo album. She was shocked at all our photos of dead people in open caskets. For the first time I viewed our family from outside my subjective reality.
This morning I listened to a CBC podcast and heard a doctor’s mission to have Death Education added to the curriculum. Her argument, which I agree with, is that we have hidden ‘real-life’ away, tucking anything remotely uncomfortable behind big sterilized doors. Then, just to mess with our minds further, popular movies spew out romantic death bed scenes of such laughable unreality that people are quite stunned when the mess of death enters their own world.
In the interview the doctor suggests students might even visit a cemetery. Imagine?!?
And then she talks about the parental indignation at the mention of death.
Why are we all so busy pretending we won’t die?
And wouldn’t it be healthier to actually talk about it now and again?
It should come as no surprise that one of my best travel experiences was visiting the Mexican cemeteries for Day of the Dead.
And Kevin has grown used to my need to visit cemeteries – wherever in the world we might be – so that I can wander and take endless photos.
Which is why I can say, with some authority, that death is not a scary topic for me, and that for once, I’m ahead of the trend.
At the end of this month I start my hospice training. I know that there will be tough emotions to deal with. I do not want to suggest this will be easy, but I know now that I’ve been training for this my whole life.
You might even say I was born to this.