إِنَّا للهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
Death is the mystery in which I hold the most faith. Living in an Apocalypse is the acceptance of my own demise, to think about the end of me. My end. Death is always the thing that happens to anyone else as long as we're alive. I have seen a lot of death since I was very young, not everyone has that experience I have come to learn. This doesn't normalise death but makes it more acceptable, less of a dangerous nature. Death becomes a peace. It humbles you right down, debilitates you, crushes you and breaks you. To deal with grief, the trauma of death, you have to let it flow out of you, even if it takes years to come. You go through all of it, an unbearable burden of mourning and mostly come out of it ok, open to more of life and more gratitude to live it.
I was so madly in love this one time, so much that my spirit was weaving poetry for the most wonderful person. He filled my home with flowers, and my mothers home, spilling out into the streets. The fragrance and life from all of the vases made us all heady. Hearts in our eyes. I started collecting all the pollens in their different shades from all the lilies, stockpiling dyes for the future Pantry, yellows and burnt oranges and rich reds. I saved all the petals and made potpourri, like my grandmother used to do. Of course I had to, I couldn't throw them away or compost them. I ended up with so many petals. I added to it every time something magical happened, like Kholofelo and Farhana's wedding: the eucalyptus hangings were invigorating, some were burnt and the rest went into the Pot of Love Pourri. So in love were we two that we wanted to do it forever and we almost did except that our love made us too hungry and we started eating ourselves. It was fine that it didn't work out, it was our decision and it was better to be friends who can love instead. In the end my heart broke so that I woke up and couldn't move. Right behind my heart my back had seized and it hurt to breathe, a bleeding heart and a weary world. I recognised it as the feeling of someone who you really love dying, which of course didn't make it easier but it made me know that I needed to feel every fucking bump and bruise, every gaping hole. It was horrible but I kept it in honesty even when he suddenly disappeared completely. A few weeks later my grandmother passed away, the love of our lives, the Rose, our Matriarch, most beloved Mamma. Death had finally arrived for her, she welcomed it and we knew it would happen. There was absolutely no space to feel anything else but the full gravity of her passing, the agony of being without her. I could not mourn the love who filled my home with flowers, I had absolutely no capacity and of course he could not compete or grieve with me.
The days before her final passing I came to recognise the face of death, I'd seen it before and understood at that moment the truth was absolute, she was already within death's loving embrace. It is certain that death in this instance was a gradual process.
I knew exactly the moment my grandmother passed away, I was not with her, I was in meditation and felt her last breath come from me and my eyes shot open. I needed a moment to be in myself before I got back to her and my family and be ready to fall apart, even just for a bit, before having to stand up again and do the necessary duties to prepare for the burial the next day.
We were privileged to prepare her body, to wash her with all the women in our family, altogether. We dried her and shrouded her, her kaffang so much bigger than she. Roses and camphor with her in her linen sheets. There were so many flowers that I kept them and dried them, with the camphor. Of course I had to, I couldn't throw them away or compost them. Camphor has a very specific smell if the first time you smell it is when you kiss the forehead of the deceased as a child. A smell of death for me. I had that smell in my room for months as I would toss the flowers. They had essentially eventually withered, dried and died and they were beautiful, even more beautiful. I had so much of it, huge pile but I could not of course throw away. I took some of the pile and poured vinegar over it, preparing a potential of uses from cleaners to conditioner. Preparing a new life to the things that had died, refreshing and restarting. It sat for a year, this Love Asyn, before I told it's story to our Medicine & Arts class in this week dealing with Death and the Corpse.
Grief is not something that goes away or heals entirely, it stays with you forever, as long as you live and as Mamma said, "Death often comes to show, we love more deeply than we know." Our depth and capacity to love is expanded beyond our knowledge and experience when death happens to us, imagine how much space that creates for those of us in life. The ultimate potentiality of Love Matter.
As for a broken heart, to give him the respect he held in my heart I decided to remember only the good and only the magic, the sanctity and not the struggles. Keep it as a memory, something that happened to us in our pasts and dilute the sense of time. It's about survival, this life.
A Recipe Ode to إِنَّا للهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
Wither you will, wither you won't, wither you do, wither you don't
- Flowers and leaves with heavy heady scent
- Alcohol, spirit or wine
- Dry the plant material in a basket or cardboard box, something that keeps the humidity low. Toss every few days.
- Expose alcohol to air and leave for a long, long time. Long time. You're making vinegar.
Add dried plant material to vinegar and leave for at least a month. Use for cleaning household, soaking greasy or heavily soiled things, dilute to make hair conditioner or even eat as salad dressing.