Tick tock tick

13 July 2010
Please be warned that this is a dark and reflective post.  If you're feeling a bit sad yourself, you might want to skip this one.

Life has not been all that good lately.  While I have so much to be thankful for there have been things that have made me very sad and I have been questioning my mortality and how I fit into the overall scheme.  Bernadette's death was devastating and while it was expected, it shocked me and has made me go over the many conversations we had just prior to her death.  Tomorrow I will go to the funeral of another good friend.  Jack died in an horrific accident last week, the last person you would expect to died so suddenly, he was like a rock and a friend to many of the homeless people I deal with at my voluntary job.  In fact, that is how we met.  He was leading the St Vincent de Paul charity and we met because we had the same clients and could help each other.  Jack will have a police honour guard at his funeral.  He was a police inspector before his retirement.  I was talking to Jack last week, teasing him about how he didn't need a holiday, then two days later he died. 

It's so sudden.  We really don't know.  I know that's a cliché and I have thought about this before, but this time, it's really hit home, that me or anyone I love might not be here next week.  And what really amazes me is that life goes on just as before like nothing has happened!  I tell you it's been a real wake up for me.  I'm generally laid back but I have this feeling now that stays with me, I guess it's insecurity or uncertainty.  Whatever it is I don't like it, it wakes me in the middle of the night and in the silence of my bedroom, my mind races through a million scenarios; I sleep in stages and wake up exhausted.

The one thing that seems to help is to feel the permanence of my home.  With Hanno here working beside me, I feel steady, secure and safe but outside, well, when I'm out I feel that maybe I won't get home again.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not having panic attacks and I'm not fearful of dying, I feel uncertain and I'm questioning everything.  Nothing is predictable, in fact it's the opposite. I think I'm sailing on smooth seas, but I know now that's untrue.

I guess the transitory nature of life has been revealed to me close up and personal.  I want to get back to a feeling of security.  I don't want to deny the nature of life - I do know the only certainty we have is that we'll die, but I want to be comfortable with that knowledge again.  Like I was before.  Maybe this has hit me because I am getting older.  I can see things I never saw before, I no longer feel like that bullet-proof larrikin I was when I was 30 years younger.  I knew then, with unfailing certainty, that I could tempt fate, be reckless and walk on a razor's edge and that I would come out on the other side just as sure as sunrise.  Yep, I knew that then, but now I know different things.  Now I am lost in uncertainty.  Time has caught up with me.  

Tick tock.

Okay, so what do I know for sure.  I know Hanno, he is a constant.  Tick.  I am sure of the love of my family and friends. Tick. I know I love my home, it nurtures me and makes me strong enough for all that I do. Tick.  I love the work of my home, it validates who I am. Tick. I know that when I knit it connects me to all my ancestors, washing up does that too; gardening reconnects me to all that is natural in this world.  That warms my heart and helps me know that those activities, while seeming simple have power and significance. I know my home, and all the work we do here,  while helping us live the life we have chosen, also make us the people we are. We are guided by daily activities but we are shaped by them too. Tick.

Writing this has made me realise this is a stage of life.  Just as feeling immortal when you're 20 and thinking you can do anything in your 30, this is a stage I am going through to prepare me for what will come later.  It's preparing me for death.  Now, I don't think I will die soon (but I could), I'm very healthy, and I certainly want to live until I'm 90 or so.  We have longevity in our family so I hope that is my destiny.  But what this is doing is preparing me.  Life would not prepare us all in certain stages and desert us in others. So just as we are given that bravado when we're 30 so we develop the confidence to be our true selves and really live every day, this fear is sent to indicate mortality, to slow us down and make us think of probabilities. Eureka! I love being the age I am.  I still feel young and only know my age when I see myself in a mirror or I cannot walk up stairs like I used to.  But maybe the loss of physical strength is replaced by something like wisdom.

I have sorted out quite a few things by writing about them.  I hope these thoughts are not too personal to share with you; it is not my intention to alarm anyone.  I guess this is a very selfish post, one, maybe, that would have been better written in a more private space.  But now it's here and I'm not moving it.  Hopefully it will help others going through something similar who, like me, think they're losing it.  I'm pretty sure that by tomorrow as I get ready for Jack's funeral, I'll have hidden these feelings again and deal with the remnants of them in my dark and silent bedroom, or I'll talk it out with Hanno over morning tea on the verandah.  Or maybe I just need time - that general panacea of getting up in the morning and living through each day to reveal again the incredible beauty of it all.  Could time be the answer?  Is it that simple?