1/04/2015

BEYOND KNOWLEDGE


A photo from a couple of years back of my boyfriend's great grandmother (which is completely unrelated to the text below).


One week ago I met a person who was coming close to his last moments. It was my first (at least that I know of) encounter with a soul that is readying itself to depart to whatever it is that awaits it in the life beyond the one we know of. That person was my grandfather. I had never really gotten to know him all that well, and merely the thought of visiting him in that state made me feel uneasy. Maybe because I was afraid I wouldn't know how to act adequately. How was I supposed to show a person I barely knew that I cared, that I felt sympathy for him and that I wanted to be supportive. I just didn't have a clue how to covey any of it. I felt helpless. And in some way I felt it wasn't justified for me to be there in the first place. What had I ever done for him? Nothing really. I felt bad. But at the same time I knew I had no reason to feel guilt. He wasn't the kind of person who had actively been around his grandchildren, but was spending much of his time alone, as far as I knew. I feel the need to be very careful when writing about him, choosing my words with great caution. After all I didn't really know him. This is merely my own experience. So keep that in mind while reading.

        We were driving down a slippery road to a slightly more remote place than I had expected. Mom was sitting in front of me in the passengers seat and dad was driving the car. I felt a tension slowly building up in me as we were approaching the building. The nursing home was aslo different than I had envisioned. In stead of the factorylike typical hospital building, before me stood a very low house not at all intimidating but inviting, out in the cold December morning. I waited for mom and dad and then walked together with them from the small parking lot to the main door and stepped through it into the building. The warmth hit my face like a tsunami. We walked down the hall into an area, which was probably meant for socializing. There were tables, a smaller side table serving coffee and other goodies, and a TV in the corner. There were Christmas decorations all over the place and it felt cozy. But there was this weird smell. I can't even describe it, but that was the only thing about that place that I found unpleasant.

        Someone was standing behind a glazed counter, welcoming us and asking who we were visiting. Mom did the talking and we continued our way walking down another hall. At our right, attached to a door was a small piece of paper on which his name was written. I really didn't know what to say. I stuck to a quick "hi" as we entered the room. I couldn't help but notice how different he looked, skinnier and paler than usual, and I tried not to look as if I was goggling at him. I'm pretty sure most people in that situation would want to be treated normally, or anyway as normal as one can act in those circumstances. I can imagine how much it must suck to spend the end of your time around people constantly reminding you of how much it hurts. If I ever find myself in that position (that is if I don't die a quick and sudden death) I wouldn't want the people I love to concentrate solely on the pain. But I'd neither want them to deny the fact that our time together on Earth is over. Surely it's not easy, but I believe one should be there, completely present, and not start mourning while the person about to leave is still alive. Of course right now I have no idea how it will feel like once I'm in that position. There's no way I could imagine it. Not yet. All I know for sure is that if I were to leave at this age I would be very sad. I like this world we live in, and I feel like there's so much to live for, so much that I still want to experience. So far I've (most of the time) enjoyed living my human life, and wouldn't want it to end quite yet. But once you've lived for many years. How will feel like? Obviously it completely depends on the person. There are so many unique experiences of life. One may feel fulfilled, another eager to end the misery. But if one is suffering from great physical pain caused by the old age or an ailment that may alone be a reason to hurry the process. In the end, it all depends on the fact of whether you've accepted death or not. At that moment I would've wanted to ask him what he feels like, but I couldn't. I didn't know him well enough. I didn't know what he would feel about such a conversation. 

        Keeping quiet, sitting in a corner, merely as an observer watching my mother and father making conversation, I felt out of place (I wasn't really sure whether he wanted me there or not). I noticed there was something different about my mother's voice as she was speaking to him - it had a sort of melancholic tone to it. After all it was her father. Dad tried his best to keep up a cheery atmosphere by chatting about a range of casual topics, but, I feel, ultimately failed in his attempts. The moody ambiance had taken over the room completely. There were long bits of silence between conversation. I felt a lump in my throat growing and noticed my eyes were watering. The corner of my mouth started twitching and I hid my face by turning it away, supposedly looking out of the window beside me. I forced myself to think of something else and managed to get my reaction under control. This was weird, I thought. Of course, it was sad to see anyone in that shape. But why did I react so strongly when I wasn't even that close to him? Then I realized that I was thinking about my mother and imagining what she felt like. I remembered what it'd been like when her mother had died. It was many years ago, when I was a kid, but I remembered clearly that moment when she had found out. A phone call in the middle of the night. We were living in Sweden at that time and my aunt living in Finland had conveyed the message. I remembered her loud crying, and myself crying with her, not because I understood what was happening but because I was hurt by her pain.

        I did speak with him later on, but very shortly. I told him what was going on in my life at the moment and he listened, reacting only with nods and vague sounds. He could barely speak, the smallest voice formation requiring a great amount of effort. Even as I hadn't directly asked him about his feelings concerning the situation I could tell he seemed to have accepted the fact that it was time to leave, that he didn't fear. Of course, the fact that he had turned down the treatments for his lung cancer, alone indicated that he didn't see any point in staying and enduring, that he was ready.

        With no definite answer to one of the greatest questions of mankind there is really no point in spending your life fearing. Fearing something that is unknown. Be it the blazes of hell or your body mouldering in the ground, your energy releasing into the atmosphere, it's inevitable. A natural part of life. Our ability to attach ourselves to other people, to in a sense become part of them, makes it hard to accept what's natural. But you might want to think of it this way: that person will really exist as long as you do, because he or she lives on in your mind. Your own perception of that person goes nowhere. Even as it may feel like one, death is not a tragedy, it's just one part of the cycle of life. But sometimes it shocks us by arriving unexpectedly early, when we haven't gotten used to the thought. And a sudden death involving an accident of some sort may feel especially unjust. Unfair. But life is the result of natural processes and pure chance, whether we like it or not. And we should learn to accept that fact, not letting it affect our lives in negative ways too much. Besides, who knows, maybe there's something as equally exciting as life waiting for us beyond our human lives.

10 comments:

  1. Really love your blog, your photos are amazing! I'm following :)

    XOXO
    http://fashion-mask.blogspot.pt/

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    1. Thanks for following, it is much appreciated! :)

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  2. wow, amazing photograph and you are such a great writer. love

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    1. Thanks Alma dear, very glad to hear that, especially coming from you. I adore your photos!

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  3. Loved reading this! Great reminder to live in the now. :) Love from Manila, Sara! Cheers to the new year. :)

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    1. Glad you enjoyed reading :) Happy new year to you as well <3

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    1. Oh honey, glad you enjoyed it! I really appreciate that you took the time to read it :)

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