I’m not blessed with much sensitivity of the extrasensory kind. I can at least tell when a friend is sad, but I cannot predict so much as a movie ending.
There is one exception.
Somehow I always knew I’d be without parents by the time I turn 35 years of age. It wasn’t a prediction or a vision or a message. It was a quiet understanding. When it turned out to be true, it was no more surprising than seeing the sun peak out from behind thick clouds after a rainstorm.
I haven’t been feeling well lately, which I suspect is a result of my vacation coming to an end and having to return to work. But around me many loved-ones are suffering losses of life. My brother has lost two close friends, both passing from COVID-19. A good friend of mine has lost a beloved grandfather. We have lost quite a few colleagues and colleagues have lost quite a few loved-ones.
In this dark time of loss and in a moment of malaise-driven, unproductive stillness, I thought of my own passing.
Have you ever considered your own? And I don’t mean the slightly superficial, almost hopeful review of who will be at the funeral and who will cry and who will try to win that really fancy handbag. I mean, really consider your absence. What will the world be without you in it?
I thought of my house. The leaves will accummulate in front of my kitchen window. The radio will still be singing softly somewhere, just loud enough to suggest life, but not loud enough to disturb the neighbours. The rays of sunlight will fall into my bathroom from my bedroom window because the curtains were never drawn the night before. The couple of grey-winged francolins nesting in my garden will sigh relief at not being disturbed by preying felines or the penetrating cold of irrigation.
My house will stand empty for a while. My people will come and remove the big and little things that I have been accummulating over four decades. Little, unimportant things. My brother will keep some of it. But most will be discarded.
In time, my little, unimportant things will be forgotten. And in a little more time, friends and family will forget the precise broken-tractor-sound of my laughter. And after a long while, I will only be remembered periodically by a student or colleague or friend telling a story of my idiocy or brilliance or something in between.
And that is okay. Just as I didn’t know I’d have this wonderful life, I don’t know now exactly what sort of life awaits me after this one. But reminding myself of my mortality makes me want to be a little kinder. And a little funnier. And a little more on purpose.
And that is a good thing.
Us scribblers here on the great vastness of web-space leave something behind too, don’t you think? One day someone will read your blog and think: That’s true. That’s nice. That’s pretty. In this, there is legacy too.
And now that the night’s cold descends, time for wine…