The fear of dying

Today was a triumphant day. Rose and I saw our first dreadlocks client in our new studio, and spent 5 & 1/2 hours getting them looking great again and putting in about 50 extensions. We’re both trashed but on a wonderful high.

Last night I dreamed that my friend Leanne, who died recently, was still alive. In my dream our long drive interstate for her funeral was actually to see her, in response to a plea for help. When we arrived she told us that she was terminally ill and wanted assistance to kill herself. In the dream I was outwardly calm as we took her to the doctor for assessment (euthanasia was legal in my dream) while inside I was screaming with a kind of terrified despair – please please don’t make me do this to you! A desperate clash between wanting to honour her needs and wanting to care for my own.

I woke distressed and confused, it took a little time to untangle dream from reality, it had been extremely vivid. It’s easy in some ways to turn my face from the grief and the reality of her death, to let it slip past my mind. That’s why I have a photo of her coffin in my phone, a piece of stone from the graveyard where she was laid to rest. Not to wound and torture myself, but to inoculate me against dissociation of the kind that takes away life. So I get out of bed and I do the things that make up my day, and I always try to do them wholeheartedly. Then in quiet moments I remember my bright, lovely friend, and I realise her passing, that though she remains in my heart her voice is now silent and we cannot have any new conversations except in the constructs of my mind.

It makes me miss her and it makes me fear dying young. I have so much love ahead of me, so many dreams and hopes and so much love. Years of torment and loneliness have passed, made way for hard won insight, for love and friendship, for some kind of peace, for joy and hope. It makes me feel the farthest from suicidal I think I’ve ever been, to clutch to life with desperate desire to live longer and dream deeper. When the guilt and the self loathing crank into life like a carousel spinning in my mind I think to myself – I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time to waste on self hate, there is so much life to be loved, friends to love, so many dreams I’m hoping for. And it doesn’t feel dismissive, it feels like permission to stop torturing myself because I never get that time back. I feel a deep laugh, a joyful casting off of a heavy weight. I put it down and throw myself back into my strange, beautiful, tiring, complicated life, with joyful abandon. I am deeply blessed.

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