When morning comes, I will not see it. With not even a pang of loneliness the sun will rise without me. This is the night of my death, for which I have waited all my life, never knowing when it would come, only sure that it would arrive. This is a night full of pain and terror and wrath and fatigue and just a hint of the tip of the wing of the wild white bird of tenderness, surcease and peace. I can feel that, too, in the midst of my amazement that I still have a voice with which to try to say goodbye to myself and to my world. No one is listening and that provides my own version of haphazard and flimsy truth with the thin shelled egg of privacy within which it can struggle to be born as I am dying. Now I need to pause to catch my inner breath which is running away from me.
I can’t stop struggling, but the struggle has changed as the ingredient of hopelessness has been added, not just spoonful by spoonful, but heaping spoonful by heaping spoonful. I am neither young nor terribly old as I face forever. If I am more old than young, the core “feel” I have of myself, strangely, has not changed since I first knew myself as a little girl. I have not been someone who loved or lived an inward life. The interior frightened me in ways I never had much interest in defining. To have undertaken that task would already have been to embark on a voyage of exploration leading to regions I did not want to know. This was instinct, not settled or refined determination.
I wanted to make a mark on the world. Children, yes, children. I loved them after my own fashion, which is what we all do, like it or not. I loved them even though my love for them made me anxious and I never stopped doubting myself. In a way my children have been treasured extensions of myself and impingements, too. Love is always inconvenient. Most of all, I wanted to make others recognize my existence. I did not want to exist in the obscurity of myself. I wanted to live in the light of others, even to bask in it. It was not that I sought fame. A local importance outside myself was enough for me. Of course, whatever I could do, whatever might happen to enlarge the radius of the circle of recognition was quite welcome to me.
Don’t think I am always this composed. I have been coming undone for months. I have no clear notion what day it is, what month, even what season. I just know I am in the season of dying. That changes everything. I’ve been incoherent for long periods of time. I know that is not the result of any choice on my part, but rather due to the vexations of my brain. I am aware that my incoherence has surprised and troubled those who knew me as supremely clear and composed. That was a temporary illusion. This is the dark night of the body. Many illusions are stripped away. What is left is a naked nothing. This is dying. If I can still manage a few words it is because my death is as yet in the process of being born out of me.Death is the last child. There is no mothering it.
Oddly, there are still thoughts. They come unbidden, flicker and then are lost. For example, I am glad my father has gone, as he would have said, “the way of the earth” before me. It would have pained him terribly to see me like this. I would not have wanted to do that to him. I can see the worried look on his face, the traces of helplessness in the lines of his cheeks. He had had enough losses, enough terror. I don’t think of my mother because she had her ways of disappearing in the face of what was real and difficult. I never knew her. Would I have liked her, if I had been able to know her? That is a question that annoys me on this, the night of my death. It seems out of place. But then I have no map.
Here I am with myself and without myself. In a way, it is thrilling. Who would have thought that dying could be thrilling with all the pain and the fear and the embarrassment and the mess? For once in my life I know what is going on. There is a release from doubt and discernment and ambiguity, all of which have weighed on me more than I have cared to admit. What is going on is that I am going not to be. In a way, I might as well never have been. Yes, it probably would have been just as well. I no longer have to do anything. I am not even obligated to myself. There is a pure selfishness in this freedom from all obligation. Selfishness and maybe also selflessness. Sleep without dreams and without waking. Night…
I am here again. I find myself here again, accidentally, incidentally. How many small almost deaths there are raveled up in the net of a single death. Now the pain is worse. I almost feel like throwing up, but I don’t have the energy. I am not sure that I care. I don’t know to whom this all is happening, but it’s not me. It is more thing than person, which is not to say that I am immune from it. I feel it all, but then something strange happens. I am separate. I know the end is coming. My end. I don’t want to slow it down or to speed it up. I am completely non-interventionist in the matter of myself. It hardly concerns me. No explaining that, any more than a fish could explain water.
I am sane now. I am of sound failing mind. I think I am sane now, I am of failing mind…