Sunday, March 18, 2007

26. The Dark Side of Death and Grief

It has been a while since I have posted, I know. Life has been getting in the way. There have been the comings and goings of family, the sorrow of break-up and divorce, the joy of discovery with a loved one, the impending death of a mentor. And all the while, menopause courses through my body and rattles my mood.

I don’t mind the hot flashes. Really. I liken them to a wasabi rush: You eat too much, and it storms up your nose toward an explosion you know is coming. You also know you can’t stop it, are powerless to resist and, in an instant, it blows right through. Same with hot flashes. I can deal with that. Keep the covers loose. And absolutely, positively do not wear turtlenecks.

But it’s also allowed the bottom to drop out of my mood from time to time. And when this happens, I step gingerly closer to what I call the dark side. Of late, it’s meant embracing, if just for the moment, the existential concept that this is all there is. No afterlife. No beforelife. No spirit. No continuity beyond the biological rhythms and grit of life as we know them.

I have never allowed myself to entertain this possibility before. It is too dark. Too depressing. Too scary. Too hurtful when I think of Gregory and Izzy, our beloveds. Or of us.

And yet.

What does it mean to touch the concept with mental flickers, the way you touch salt with your tongue and fell a shiver of excitement?


Is it because I’m menopausal? Is it because the end of my life is undeniably closer than its beginning? Does being in this place in time allow me to dip into the possibility that we are but lights that blink on, then blink off, for all eternity?

I find myself rolling this concept around, like caramel. Or a mouthful of voluptuous wine.

That makes it sound pleasant, but the comparisons are more about nuance. I do not wish this to be the case. But I can seize it, touch it, feel it just now without screaming.

And the great conundrum is all this evidence that points flirtingly toward there being more, no matter what the hard scientists say. I am speaking beyond the religious and spiritual texts, beyond the mantras and Hail Marys, to an isness that transcends faith.

But if you entertain the thought for even a fleeting moment that this is all there is, that we are creatures biologique, it opens up a different appreciation for life. By some fluke of chance, we become the candle. We become the flame. We wink on. And before we wink off, what do we do with our tiny window of light?

We can be gangstas and bling-queens. We can surf the drug culture till we are senseless. We can steal and cheat and lie and grab for ourselves and our tribe. We can kill and die for Allah and God. Or, we can sort of hold our lives in our hands and say, “What do we do here? The clock is ticking. What can we do in our brief time that pays something forward to unborn generations who may never know we existed?”

I don’t have the answer. I’m not even sure I understand the question. But these are matters we all must contemplate, whether they are truth or not. For in the end, none of us gets out of this alive. And in the end, none of us knows the answer to the question – whether there will be 72 virgins waiting for our sacrifice, or deep, soundless, timeless repose – until we die. Oh, to retreat into the familiar feminine flow once again.

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