Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Beforelife

Two weeks ago I met with like-minded people to explore death. It's a queer thing, death. We don't much want to talk about it, which is hardly surprising, because contemplation of our demise isn't terribly cheerful. It's not the topic, when otherwise lost for words, that one would usually raise, when one has 'football', or 'Coronation Street' to fall back on.

One of the would-be participants in the Death Weekend obliged by dying the week before the meet. This is not so dramatically spooky, as she was over eighty (an achievement that is an ambition of mine) but her appointment with her maker did mean the Death Group could attend her funeral. A worthy and wonderful woman emerged from the Event. We Deathers later eulogised over what a marvellous woman she was;how special; though we never met her, we knew we would  have been friends... . 

"That's precisely BECAUSE,"  I remarked, sagely, "You never knew her. Nobody discusses the tough stuff at funerals." A trend I fully intend to have perpetuated when  I pass on. 

I died once. I was much too young to remember where my consciousness went in the process, but I returned as I am today, totally unphased by the prospect of extinction. Wherever I went, I was pleased to be there. Pretty pleased to come back too, accepting with a child's surrender to what is, that whatever will be will be. 

The point of this weekend hosted by Grim Reaper Elves, was to get death out of our systems. To tell death stories, thus removing the trauma from them. To look forward to what remains of life, and to drink tea and eat cake. I intended to plan my funeral too, but never got round to it. I will, I will, - stop nagging! 

Last Wednesday, I visited my friend Margareta. We talk about death a lot, because she's very, very ill, and we know her time is short. She's worried about leaving her only son behind, but otherwise rather looking forward to the Afterlife. Neither of us speculates much about what it entails. We are Catholics. We are trained to live with mystery. 

Bearing in mind that she's so sick, I really shouldn't have quarrelled with her about Hell. "You don't want to believe in it, because it's too hard," says Margareta. "Not at all, " I retort, "I don't want to believe in it because it's an obscenity!" 

An obscenity. For there to be a hell, there must be no love. And God is Love, or a waste of space. 

"If people I love have to go to hell. then I choose to go with them. In protest. Suck THAT up God!" 

Oh dear! That's torn it. 

Meandering on to a conclusion:

Speculation about what happens when we die is intellectually stimulating, if rather pointless. We are practically pure energy, as is all matter, and energy can neither be created or destroyed, so survival is guaranteed in some form by a Universal Constant... . There's food for thought... 

The Afterlife can, and will, wait. It's the Beforelife that concerns me now. Whatever comes next for me won't be a physical entity like this one, no matter what. So I am going to make the most of what I experience now. Even the sad and bad bits. Everything is amazing.

I would like to leave you with something uplifting after this rather gloomy piece of introspection, so I'm going to end  with Garrison Keillor's postscript to his 'Writer's Almanac' Podcast:

"Be well, do good work, and keep in touch."



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