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Can We Please Talk About Death?

After all, what is life without it?

You guys, my aunty died.

As we all know, I was particularly crabby on Monday and that was the day it happened. Call it intuition if you will; I can’t help but feel that maybe I sensed the dread.

I knew she was sick, and I knew it was coming. In preparing myself for the inevitable, I thought a lot about death and the finality of it, how it would impact not just me, but my family.

My immediate family and I moved to New Zealand when I was nine and the rest of my family stayed back in Yugoslavia, missing out on any chance of growing up together and being a part of each others lives.

Although we survived a war relatively unscathed, with not one immediate death, it doesn’t mean that we didn’t lose family.

War is a losing game

When I think about my aunty and all that I know about her, altogether, it isn’t very much.

What we lost in the war is a connection. We lost time. I lost the opportunity to know an amazing woman.

She was a respected music teacher, she even tried teaching me – me, who knew everything at eight – to play the accordion. Suffice to say, great as she was, no one could get through to an energetic and short attention-spanned eight year old.

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The only other story I can recall is when we were staying with her in Belgrade during the war.  Milk and bread was like gold. It was hard to come by and one of the only foods available.

There was a new bottle of long life milk in the fridge and I told my aunty that long life milk was my favourite. Till this day, I still love the flavour of it.

So she opened up the box, gave me a straw, and let me drink until I was full.

How to mourn someone you hardly knew

The last time I saw my aunty was three years ago, during my Buddymoon.

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The thing is, it’s not like I’ll miss her in my everyday life. Maybe this is what makes me saddest, that I can’t even mourn her like I’m supposed to.

She’s gone but to me, she was never really here. She was someone that I knew from a great distance, someone I visited for a few days every few years.

She couldn’t know me and I couldn’t know her. Every time I would visit, we would need time to get to know each other again and just as we got the hang of it, it would be time for me to leave.

I loved her, but I loved her as a nine year old would, I loved the memory of her, the idea of what she represented.

And now she’s gone and when I saw her last, I didn’t say the final goodbye. How could I know that was the last time I’d see her?

I can only hope she found joy in my visit.

Death, it’s just so… Final.

Never again will I have the opportunity to talk to her face to face, have coffee with her, discuss Serbian politics with her.

And although our story in this lifetime is over, I would be silly if I didn’t believe that there is more to this life than the skin we occupy. I know wherever she is, she is finally free from the pain that she suffered in the end.

at the end of a day
Photo by Monique Laats on Pexels.com

I have no doubt that the last year has been an absolute bitch, while cancer ate away at her. All I can say is that whatever happens to us when we leave this place, it can’t be any worse than that.

When reading doesn’t help

My current toilet book is ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ and boy, tell you what – that is not a fun read.  I will do a full review on it when I’m finished, it’s just such a phenomenal story, but the setting is as dreary as one would expect of a holocaust.

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Image Credit: GoodReads

When faced with death everyday, and knowing that every minute could be your last, it’s amazing how, even as a reader, one can be surprised when a life is lost.

We all know we’re going to die, right? I mean, life would be nothing without death.

Like any story, we all have a beginning, a middle and an end to our lives.

So to wrap up, here is some advice that I am not qualified to give and that I should really follow myself:

Do that thing that you’re scared to do.

Do the thing that you have been thinking about but it’s just not the right time for.

Book that trip, change your career, get a massage, cut your hair off.

What is the point of life if we’re not living it like we want to? Because it does end. Much as we try to ignore that giant-death-elephant in the room, it is there, always.

Don’t waste your time on being too busy. You can do better than that.

On that unqualified and sad note, adios. And as Ellen would say, be kind to each other.

B.

Tetka,

I’m sorry for what you went through and I’m sorry I wasn’t there. That’s all.

One comment

  1. We also didn’t lose family during the yugoslavian war. Many people say we’re lucky.
    Lucky?!
    Like you said, you lose time.
    And what about the emotional scars!
    Unfortunately my aunt ended up commiting suicide, years after the war.

    Sorry to hear for your loss ! ☹️

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