Now that I am dead, I want to tell you a few things. Actually, that’s a lie. Now that I am dead, I can tell you nothing, but that’s hypotheticals for you. It’s the principle that counts.
Death has this irritating habit of defining life, driving from the backseat. It’s the finale, exeunt, end. Nobody really thinks of it like that, but through all of the days and nights and months and apparently endless seasons, the only thing that is truly certain, is that you will die. I hate to break it so bluntly, but you will. And, if you live to be old enough, you will eventually forget most of that through which you lived, too. You will forget the voices and the faces and the scents, the name of your very first teacher and the name of the child who threw a Lego brick at you on your first day of school. You will forget the name of the shop clerk who sold you a packet of Marlboro Reds every other day, and the name of the neighbour on the South side of your Grandparents’ house who always gave you a small amount of change for a bag of sweets from the corner shop. You will forget the day on which you fell in love, and the night in which your heart was broken. You will forget the name of your childhood best friend, and the name of that flower that you really liked. You will forget everything that once you held dear.
Eventually, you will forget his name, you will forget hers. Then, you will die. It’s not as though you could have taken any of the memories with you, anyway.
So what’s the point in telling any of this? I don’t know. It’s just one of those things- I sometimes feel the need to stand on top of the tallest building in a city centre and shout it out to all the people down on the ground.
For every day since his tenth birthday, my best friend took a photograph. Not of himself, nor of anything of particular note, but just something from that day; if asked, he would just say, ‘a photograph a day keeps amnesia away’, and carry on. His house burned down two days after his nineteenth birthday and he lost all of his photographs, but just shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘I’d have forgotten their significance eventually anyway.’ Half a year later, he began to forget and became obsessively convinced that he was going to disintegrate with the loss of memory. He overdosed instead.
There are already people who have forgotten him. And that’s no disrespect, it’s just the way that it goes.
One may become immune to death. Not entirely – that’s called immortality and eternal life, and doesn’t happen outside fiction – but to a point whereupon it ceases to have effect; when yet another known name has two dates stencilled onto a stone and the only reaction becomes a sigh. It just becomes the opposite of what it really is – a facet of life to be endured by all eventually. Nietzsche was right when he muttered instead about the living being a species of the dead. Life, too, is a long road filled with faces and names and stories. Yes, I know, I have said that all will be forgotten, but that doesn’t mean forgetting how to feel.
If there’s one thing that should always be remembered, it’s how to feel.
That was many years ago, when my best friend killed himself, and I am now eighteen; but every year since then, someone close to me has died. Five weeks ago, it was my mother, who breathed her last and slipped existence. I just went and made another coffee, called for an undertaker, and went back to the book that I’d left on the bench.
Days will forever go on. I stopped laughing many moons ago, and rarely cry; sometimes just pretending the more subtle emotions just to save those around.
Yes, if there’s one thing that should always be remembered, it’s how to feel.
Always, always, let yourself feel.