Eat, drink, and talk about death
I went to the Death Café at 100th Monkey Café & Books (642 W. Fifth St.) recently. You’d think I’d had enough death for the nonce, but I’m interested in a subject so universally present and ignored.
We were there for different reasons—two women, four men, three young, three old—and the facilitator talks to dead people, which pleased me to no end. Some of us had encountered death emotionally early in life when a sibling or parent checked out and we were still dealing with it one way and another. Emotional bonds between us apparently don’t go away just because we do. Love is eternal. My death experience was the most recent, I think, and I felt like I was the most raw—still moist but healing nicely and starting to form a scab.
Just sitting there knowing that each of us was going to die—along with the rest of our species, everyone unique—made me feel connected to them. I suppose we were connected to begin with, like you and me, so maybe I became aware of those bonds and our shared future.
I went mostly because of my interest in home funerals. When Janice died last year I helped the angel/nurse wash her body—Janice’s body, not the angel/nurse’s. I kept her body at home until the next morning. When I ran out of distractions, I’d go sit with it for a while. Handling her corpse and having what used to be Janice around for that extra day helped me immensely, although I couldn’t say specifically how, except I knew in my bones that the thing lying in our bed wasn’t dead Janice. Janice had gone away.
Having a kind of half-assed home funeral for Janice was valuable for me and I think more involvement with the corpses of our loved ones would be good for all of us (like clean water and someone to nuzzle), humanizing and loving in ways that shipping them off to a business for processing can’t be. Chico’s Death Café happens on the first Thursday of the month, 7-8:30 p.m.
I haven’t cried in over a week. It feels odd, like something’s missing. Going through Janice’s things still knocks me down, but most of the time I’m not bereft. Lonely, sad, overwhelmed, yes, but not so much lacking something. I’m still missing a leg, but I don’t mind so much because I’m getting used to hopping around like I used to before I met her. Her role in my life ended when she died, and I’m not looking to refill it. I’m collaborating on a new script with a different character, and quite a character she is.
Death Café Chico: www.deathcafe.com/deathcafe/249/
100th Monkey Café & Books: www.facebook.com/100thMonkeysBooks