Here’s to Life

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

I saw my first dead body when I was nine. My sister’s boyfriend was killed in a car crash and for some or other reason (I can’t remember why exactly) my mother and sister had to identify his body. I couldn’t be left alone at home that night, so I tagged along. My memories of that night are rather hazy and I’m sure my sister will remember it differently, but what did strike me, as I looked down at his body, was that his moustache was on skew.

Then when I was eleven a boy in my class, called Adam, was killed while riding his bicycle in front of his home. It was a surreal experience going to a classmate’s funeral in my school uniform and then playing with the other kids afterwards. We played as though nothing had actually changed, like Adam ‘s life hadn’t just come to an abrupt and senseless end.

A year later my father went to Poland to open the South African Embassy there. He came home with Cancer. We didn’t realise at the time that it was Cancer. None of the doctors over here had ever seen anything like it before. We then moved to Windhoek where a quack told him that he was allergic to the washing powder my mother was using. So my mother went through a period of trying different washing powders and detergents, but to no avail. My father steadily got worse and the disease disfigured him. Turning him from the charismatic man that women dropped their knickers for into a man that women crossed the street to get away from. It was only in Vienna that they figured out that it was a very rare form of skin cancer, but it had spread throughout his body and there was nothing left that they could do except prolong his life with radiation therapy. By the time he died his skin had pretty much disintegrated into flaky heaps on the floor and his blood, no longer kept in by the layers of skin, seeped through the mattress and collected in a puddle on the floor. I was eighteen and my mother and I were with him when he took his final breath.

Since then I’ve been to many other funerals and only a handful of weddings.  The last funeral was for my Grandmother in April last year. It was also the only funeral I actually cried at. I’m not talking the normal shedding of tears here, I’m talking the heart wrenching sobbing kind of crying. I made up for all those funerals I didn’t cry at.

And now a very dear friend of mine is having to deal with the imminent death of a family member, also due to Cancer.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been faced with death and my own mortality. For all I know I could die in half an hour from now, or tomorrow, or twenty years from now. Nobody gets out of here alive. I think that sense of mortality has affected the way I choose to live my life. Some would say I live recklessly, which is probably true. I’m the first to admit that I do drive rather recklessly and I’m also reckless with my heart. I believe in living my life to the fullest. I refuse to live a half life or hold back. I let the people I care about know that they are cherished and loved. I want to live my life with passion and reckless abandon. I make no apologies for it. I also refuse to live my life according to someone else’s rules. I tried it once, I didn’t like it much.I certainly won’t be trying it again.

So my friends, I say Fuck the rules and here’s to LIFE!

Now go live your lives, kiss your loved ones. Eat, drink and be merry. For tomorrow this little journey could come to a very abrupt end. The moments that we have left should be enjoyed to their utmost. At the end of this little dance we call life I want to be able to look back and say “I fucking did it!” How about you?

4 thoughts on “Here’s to Life

  1. I can’t agree more, Joan; too many people don’t live at all, and all the risks they wont take, all the decisions they wont make, all the girls or guys they wont kiss, all the refusals to walk in the rain, every single sunset or sunrise that they miss, all of this builds up until eventually, when they’re frail and tired they realize that they’ve got so many regrets.

    I promised myself long ago to live without regrets – there may be choices that I’m not exactly proud of but I’ll be damned if I say that I regret them. The world, and everything in it, is too massive and too incredibly awesome to ignore, and living by the ‘rules’ that society and Religion lays down is a recipe for regret.

    I say live your life and love it, live it with a respect and a love for every living thing around you, and never act your age! Life is life, whether you’re old or young, and just because you start doing things more slowly and carefully when gravity and grey-hairs take over doesn’t mean you must stop. 🙂 I’ll be bungi-ing when I’m 80 for sure. 🙂

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