I rather loved this checkerboard pattern in the decaying O’Brien family plot on my last visit to the cemetery. There were several of them, looking rather fairy tale and oddly inviting. Odd to think that styles come and go in cemetery plot design, but I suppose there is no reason things should not be as fluid there as anywhere.
Death has been coming to call in my life rather often these days. No one in my immediate family for which I am grateful. But I have been feeling keenly aware of those that have gone, especially as I am now the eldest in my little branch, though I am not sure if I can give that ‘honour’ to my second cousin – if he wants it, he is very welcome to it. Not a crown I am seeking. I miss having that nice buffer of older generations standing between me and eternity. These days I seem to have a darned clear look at it, but that horizon still feels rather distant. Almost comfortably distant. Almost.
Until death stops by and pays a visit. Which he did last night. I was chatting with an old friend and she told me that someone I had once been reasonably close to but had a major falling out with, with no hope of ever repairing the friendship – had died. Of heart failure. I admit that my first thought was it was not possible for him to have died of heart failure – he did not possess that particular organ. Fortunately, I had the good sense to hold my tongue. Yet, I did not wish him dead, nor do I take any pleasure in the knowledge that he is dead. And yet… I really don’t know what I feel… Of course I feel sad for his family and what they are going through, etc, but what do I actually feel about him dying?
Is it OK to not care when someone dies? Other people cared. I am sure there will be plenty of family and friends at his funeral. Should I care? Should I be reflecting on our falling out and wishing I had reconciled with him (I have no such wish)? Such unexpected questions. And no guides to refer to for answers. Oddly, I have this weird feeling that if no one at all cared, then I would care, because someone must care. But since there are others, it does not have to be me. He is no Eleanor Rigby.
Which makes me think of the Eleanor Rigbys in my life, people who have driven those that loved them away, usually in a disagreement over ‘principle,’ over some moral righteousness that trumps other people’s feelings and beliefs and the value of their friendship. Even though you know they are alone and lonely, you can’t reach out because they will bite you. Maybe not right away, but inevitably, they will. I think about them dying alone and no one knowing. Until you get a call.
That horizon is closer than I thought.