I once took my daughter to an old-fashioned child psychiatrist because she was having a desperate time with insomnia, and like all good shrinks, his thoughts turned immediately to death.  Afterwards, I took him aside for a moment and said, “um, I think I might be to blame a bit here, because she’s very attentive to me, and I think about death all the time.”  All the time? he asked.  “Well, yes. Pretty much all the time. Doesn’t everyone?”  He frowned.  ‘No.’ Then spoke slowly, as if to a person of low-IQ.  ‘Some people think about making dinner or what car to buy.’

Well that explains it.  I’m not interested in cars and I hate cooking.

I raise this because I woke up this morning thinking about Tom, the first proper horse I ever rode. He wasn’t sweet or good-tempered, and in fact I was fairly terrified to put a saddle on him because he always threatened to kick me to death. But he had the most beautiful gaits, and would jump anything, no matter how inept the rider (me) was.

He was already 22 or so when I first rode him, so probably about 25 last week when he had to be put down, which is a decent age for a horse. One story went that he broke his leg in the field, but another account (possibly more honest) just said he was getting too old to be used as a school horse anymore.

In that twilight-y time between waking and getting out of bed, I got to thinking about how, the older you get, the more your brain becomes a graveyard. My sister is there, and so is my father, with the handsome young journalist I kissed at a party (he jumped off a building), the truelove from my 20s (another suicide), a favourite teacher who died jogging, the first person in London who hired (and fired) me, the three friends from my days working in the Chrysler Building in NYC who all died of brain tumours.

It’s worth thinking about death, especially on a day when the sun is shining and the sea is warm, the dogs want to be taken for a walk on the lagoons, the book is nearly finished and I can’t think of a single reason to be unhappy. It won’t last, I know. But right now, alive is good.


6 thoughts on “Odd Thoughts

  1. Lynn Priestley 9 years ago

    Meg, What a beautiful and insightful post. Not so long ago I did a course with a Buddhist organisation in Brisbane – they run a palliative care service as well. As a nurse, I thought it might help me get my head around that very thing you mention – the virtual tombstones that live in my head and include family, friends and mostly strangers I’ve had the privilege to care for. The course was life changing cause it made me think about death and it made me realise in order to have a good death you really need to have a good life. And that meant starting in that very moment of realisation and continuing on. It also taught me that nothing ever stays the same. Everything changes. That is the way of this world and because of that we must savour those wonderful moments that come to us. Enjoy!

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  3. Julie Parsonnet 9 years ago

    My mother made a wooden sculpture entitled, “My Wall”, on which she etched the names of all her close friends who had died. Very touching.

    1. Meg 9 years ago

      Reminds me of the Vietnam memorial in Washington DC, which is so incredibly moving, for reasons that are hard to articulate.

  4. Sarah 9 years ago

    You have made me feel so much better about my own thoughts of death – my graveyard has two much cared for ex-boyfriends, my beloved Nan, my Dad – not too mention Libby the tall and elegant first horse I rode, who was put down at the grand old age (for a horse, at least) of 27. I’ve often thought it was because I almost died of a brain haemorrhage – that the subject seemed somehow closer – but I realise that this is not the case, and with a graveyard like mine, why should I look for a justification?!

  5. Meg 9 years ago

    Well, what do I know, but it’s got to be better to think about death than ignore it.

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