Three deaths


a. A big death

The universe dies because of the laws of thermodynamics. Everything – absolutely everything – is being moved from an ordered state to a disordered one. Given enough time all of the ordered structure in the universe – the stars, the planets, the black holes – will be worn away by the endless beak-rubbing of entropy. The death of the universe is a vast featureless void, hovering just a few degrees above absolute zero. The final triumph of chaos.

b. A tiny death

Our body daily orders the death of countless cells in our body. Tiny chemical signals are sent to them, telling them their time is up and, bless them, they shut down and dismantle themselves, to be washed away as rubbish by our bodies.

c. A human-sized death.

Dawn was my friend for 20 years. Because of her I have a hard time thinking of chaos as being cold and empty. Her house was generally chaos…three kids, a cat or two, the more-frequently-started-than-finished DIY projects of her husband, generally (it must be recorded, without judgement nor admonishment) a bit of a mess, craft projects battling each other for control of every flat surface. But it was a house that was always warm, where life, in all its spirally unpredictability, flourished. Where there was always a cup of coffee, a chat, a laugh, a story.

Some time, probably around 5 years ago, a cell of hers refused to die when it was told to. It lived on. It recruited others to its rebellion. More and more cells joined it as the years went by. Signing up stealthily, their revolt unnoticed until last year.

A little earlier today their combined insurrection killed Dawn.

She leaves her husband to finished the great DIY project of his life alone. She leaves two grown-up boys. She leaves an autistic daughter who will never truly be grown up. She leaves two grieving parents and leaves ripples on the ponds of the many lives that she touched in her 49 years. She leaves craft-work projects unfinished, chats unsaid, jokes without a punchline, a boiled kettle un-poured, a chaotic home without its matriarch.

There are many worse off than me tonight; I am poorer for her passing, but richer for having passed time with her. Goodnight.

3 thoughts on “Three deaths

  1. I hope there’s going to be a wonderful wake for her; a proper send-off that she would have wanted to go to. I’ve enough years that I’ve had to mark others’ passings without finding anything to say to anyone that seems worth the saying. The one thing I do know is that when the not-yet-21 son of a good friend (and a friend of ours) died in a car crash, the void that seemed to take his place only could be approached when I remembered James Taylor’s Fire and Rain. “I always thought that I’d see you again”. So, no consolation but I think that not really knowing you and not knowing her, at least you knew she was going to leave, that sometime you would not see her again.
    You’ve already had time to honor and polish the many memories, to speak the words that had you not been able to tell them might have torn you apart.
    And don’t let go of the thoughts of those traits you value. When you meet someone who has a hint of one of them, tell them of this person who did something like that and how it blessed the lives of those around her. It doesn’t have to be a big thing….sometimes the things we value in ourselves we think others don’t notice.
    So to give the gift of making you think of someone you still cherish, that can be something which enriches them and sets them apart from those they might compare themselves with.
    Instead of it being “I knew a wise old man who told me _______and I remember it, and him still”, it could be “I was given the gift of the friendship of a woman who_______” and in sharing her qualities, you’re also affirming that women have value in small as well as great things.
    By giving Dawn’s life meaning to others who didn’t know her, you’re saying their lives can have meaning. The more of her you share, give away, the more she stays with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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