I can’t imagine not finding the act of death sad, or at the very least be put on the verge of outward emotional displays at the thought of it. Especially if it were to be someone close to me. A parent, partner, child, friend. Thinking of it now, I feel as though the death of any of these current or future individuals would linger and constantly cut into the life that I carried on living. This would bring tears.
Then I had a conversation. One that was very macabre from the beginning.
Socialising within the charity organisation I am a part of, I was placed on a table with five women with ages beginning at 72 and ending at 98.
The 98 year old woman began telling me how both her and her husband came on the trips that the charity organises. Then he died. This would be her first one without him.
However, she didn’t tell me this with tears in her eyes.
She carried on elaborating to me whilst the others began to discuss a recent funeral. She told me how she had never been to his grave. That her parents had a plot just a few over from his.
She didn’t seem sad even though the topic was morbid. It was a conversation like any other.
Her father passed first, and her mother, on her deathbed, told her daughter never to come to the cemetery. To never visit her grave or her fathers. She told her daughter that she didn’t want the grass around the gravestone trimmed, that she didn’t want flowers. That she didn’t want her daughter there.
And her daughter, now sat to my right and 98 years old, had never visited the grave of her father, the grave of her mother or the grave of her husband.
I asked her whether she wanted to or whether she ever would.
She looked at me as if I’d asked the most absurd question and replied with a confident ‘no, never’.
To me that is tragic and sad. To her it was fact and choice.
Upon her mother’s request it is likely that she cried. But not anymore. She admired, responded respectfully and fulfilled her mother’s wishes. That in itself is beautiful.
Thinking of it, even as I type, the morbid beauty of her act hits something inward and robs me of breath. But not to her as she spoke about it.