thoughts on death post header when do i get the manual

Thoughts On… Death

thoughts on death post header when do i get the manual

I remember my first dead body.

That makes me sound like a serial killer. Let me rephrase.

I remember seeing my first dead body.

It was my maternal grandmother’s – my Yaya’s – and she was lying in a coffin with white satin lining. It was propped up, almost standing to face those coming to pay their respects, and she was pale. Unnaturally pale. Much paler than I had ever seen her. Her expression was serious, her mouth turned down at the sides. There was no joy in her face at all, which was very unlike her. She was a woman who was always smiling, always laughing, always trying – like a stereotypical grandmother from a storybook – to feed you delicious food until you burst at the seams.

She was a woman who was always shuffling around the kitchen, or fanning herself with her abanico as she leaned back, out of breath from laughing, sighing “Ay!”

She was a woman who always took the time to pin a brooch to her breast and put lipstick on before going out, who always sprayed herself with perfume and made sure each blonde curl was in place, and who had a faith in God that stayed with her even after hope had been abandoned.

Now she lay, silent and still, in a box behind glass; an unsettlingly strange and wrinkled doll in a building of tears and heartbreak. She no longer looked like herself. She was missing that spark that made her her. This wasn’t my Yaya, this wasn’t the woman who would envelop me in her arms and kiss me over and over again until I wriggled away laughing. This was a husk. A shell. This was the discarded coccoon of a life well-lived, of a woman well-loved.

Death frightens me.

Life frightens me.

It frightens me how fragile we all are. It frightens me that we go through life as thin-skinned human popsicles made of nothing more than a pinch of star dust and earth, brought together and animated by an ember of life.

And when that ember is extinguished or extinguishes itself, leaving behind the curling smoke of memories and loss in its wake, it can beĀ suffocating. The after-effects of the end of a life can feel like your heart is in a vice, and every thought of the person you loved and lost is a turn of the screw.

Death is something that enters into all our lives, and it visits more often the older we get. We like to ignore it, skirt around it, pretend it won’t touch us with its long, cold fingers, but it does. It will. It is unavoidable.

When it will come to us is largely unpredictable. It can slip in and out of our lives at any time. As we grow older, we become more aware of its presence; we look over our shoulder every so often and do things that we hope will make death pass over us, at least until we are old and infirm. We stop smoking, we exercise, we eat healthy food. We become more risk averse. We understand the full weight of life. If we’re lucky, we accumulate loved ones and experiences and hobbies and passions that we don’t want to say goodbye to, and so we shrink back when we feel death nearby.

Don’t pick me. Don’t pick us.

We support our friends in their times of grief. We cry with them, because we know the pain. We may not feel their loss, but we feel their suffering. We read terrible, tragic stories about strangers and feel sorrow, but also relief; glad that it didn’t happen to anyone we know, glad that it happened to someone else, somewhere else. No matter that their grief is just as profound, just as crushing as it would have been for us.

Death is busy elsewhere, and we have the audacity to feel safe in its absence.

There is a unique and precious freedom that comes before we learn about mortality. As children, we exhibit a recklessness that we lose around the same time we begin to comprehend the concept of consequences. Even though this is obviously an important part of growing up, I’m starting to think we could all do with adding back a little of our childhood bravery. I know I could. After all, we don’t know when death will come to call.

Is there anything to be gained by dreading it the way we do? Is there anything to be gained by pressing ourselves against the wall, hoping to make ourselves invisible?

I’m not suggesting we all go BASE jumping in the morning.

I’m not suggesting we start a diet consisting solely of donuts*.

I’m just wondering out loud whether we – I – should live a little less fearfully. There are things I haven’t done yet because a thin, reedy voice in the back of my head makes it its mission to spook me every time I think about them too hard. If I talk myself out of things I wish I had the courage to try, am I really living my life to the fullest? I can’t keep putting things off for an indeterminate ‘someday’ when I don’t know how many somedays I have left. I should make the somedays today.

And so should you.

I hope that when death comes for me, I have lived a long and full life. I hope that like my Yaya, I leave behind memories of love and laughter, good food and good company. I hope that like her I have time to say goodbye to those I love, and that I face it with courage and acceptance. I hope, but I don’t know.

So in the meantime, I’m going to try to live fearlessly… or at least, less fearfully.

Same same, but different.



*Although how delicious would that be?




Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby


Sex is a tricky subject to blog about.

In a way, if I choose not to write about sex at all, ever, I stay safe. I stay private. In some ways, I stay in the shallow end, with my Finding Nemo armbands on, blowing bubbles in the water. It’s fun and it’s low-risk. I also feel, however, like it strips me of a side of myself. I know that it definitely makes me feel very two-dimensional. If I avoid the topic entirely, I am Mr. Potatohead as a tortilla, is what I’m saying.

Just like this minus the moustache

So far on this blog you’ve seen that I have nightmares, can’t dress myself and harbour a natural and healthy disdain for Donald Trump. I’m not sure how I’m coming across so far – and we’re only a month in – but if you’re thinking, ‘This girl seems like someone who is slightly unhinged, and listens to terrible, terrible music when she’s feeling down, and possibly owns a pair of rainbow holographic hi-tops from the children’s section of Walmart‘ then you’re about half the way there. I am not a complex creature.

Having said that, that’s only part of a whole. I make things to relax. I can bake excellent chocolate chip cookies. On any given day you can find me typing next to the nearest heat source. I enjoy drawing. I love to travel. All of these things are true, and pleasant, and wholesome.

And then sex.

How do you throw that into the mix? It feels a little like standing up in the middle of mass and peeling your top off; there are definitely going to be some shocked faces in the congregation. Some people will wish you’d kept it on, some people will likely hiss, ‘Nobody needs to see that,‘ and still others will probably just stand up and walk out.

Then again, I’m an adult, or at least that’s what my official documents tell me. I’m an adult who yesterday spent a not-inconsiderable amount of time on Reddit guiding a complete stranger through the world of lingerie. I advised on the pros and cons of different types, and answered questions about when and where and how to best wear it.*

I’m an adult, and like it or not, when you’re an adult sex is part of your life. Whether or not you’re actually having any, whether or not you’re interested in it, whether or not you even know what you’re doing… it’s unavoidable. Not mentioning it doesn’t make it disappear. I don’t want to infantilise myself by pretending that it doesn’t exist. This blog is about adulting, right?

And this is what I’ve noticed about the blogging world so far. Even though the vast majority of bloggers are adults (often in relationships or actively dating), there is a deep and apparently unbridgeable divide between bloggers who discuss sex, and bloggers who don’t. I’m not sure if this is to do with wordpress rules, cultural taboos, privacy, or general awkwardness, but whatever causes it, it’s interesting.

On one side of the sex-talk abyss we have people who blog about travel, lifestyle, beauty, fashion, food, life observations, and general musings. These people don’t seem to ever discuss sex. It just doesn’t come up. It’s like it doesn’t exist. They bake muffins and hike through forests and talk about their children – who presumably came into the world in the traditional way, and not through immaculate conception – without referring to it once. Not even obliquely. At most, if they’re female, they might drop a comment about birth control.

Then, on the other side, are bloggers who only ever seem to write about sex. Having it, not having it, how to have it, and so on. They have their own little subcommunity, it seems. They talk about everything sex-related. Everything and anything. No, really.**

I don’t want to pitch tent in either of these camps. I feel like I need to wander into No Man’s Land and find myself a spot somewhere in between. I don’t want to talk about the particulars of my sex life; I like my privacy and I’m comfortable treading water in the shallow end. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem right to ignore it completely. It’s a part of adulting! That and cervical smears…

I’m open to any suggestions on how I might be able to meld the two. Or if you have a blog and you’ve posted about sex, link me down below!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to bake butterscotch muffins.


*I’m a big fan of lingerie. BIG fan.

**The rabbit hole goes really, really deep, guys. Just… just take my word for it.