Too Many Deaths. Really. That’s Enough.By Emma Pearson
September 22, 2023
12 January 2020
I have just come back from what should have been two lovely days away with my Medjool. My new love. My number two. (Not Second Best. Just Number Two. Subtle but Important difference).
Some of our time away was lovely – truly relaxing, soothing, stunningly beautiful, comforting, renewing, and more. And some of it was just plain horrid. For me. And of course, I had to make it so for him because pain is just too big sometimes and I need someone else to feel some of it, to pass it on to, even if it’s totally unfair and unwarranted and immature and I should know better. And it’s not passing on the pain anyway. It’s doubling it. No one wins.
We went away on Friday 10th Jan. Four years to the day since David Bowie died. The world rocked and reeled instead of rocked and rolled. And four years to the day since my sweet youngest brother Edward died, aged 46, of a Glioblastoma brain tumour. My world rocked and reeled.
At one point in August 2015, the medical establishment said they gave him “two weeks to two months”. He had more than 5 more months. Not masses, but worth having. A pyrrhic victory for sure, because the outcome was the same. We counted his months in full moons. Friday 10th Jan 2020 was the official” full moon of this month, and it was beautiful and stunning and sad and meaningful as it hung there massive as a pancake wanting to be gobbled up in the morning; and bright and tight and pert in the evening.
Medjool and I were off for a weekend’s cross-country skiing (yes – that is a relaxing weekend for me – really). Our beautiful local mountains, the Jura. Snowy crispness. Good local food and wine. Quite a different feel to the cross-country resorts frequented by Genevans. And quite different views.
Different views too of “Le Reculet”, the highest point in the Jura mountain range from which, in July 2016, we scattered Ed’s ashes. The same mountain that stands proudly above the spot where we scattered Mike’s ashes. The same mountain that overlooks where Julia took her life a mere 6 months ago. And of course, the same mountain that overlooks the spot where we scattered Julia’s ashes just 10 days ago. I see the mountain many times a week, from just outside my house, during walks I take with the Black the dog, as I drive home from myriad places. But I invariably see it from one perspective only – its east-facing side.
This weekend we were beyond the other side of it, just 17 kms as the crow flies from my house, but over an hour’s drive away. Another world. Different views. Trudging along on a long (for me) cross-country ski route, I suddenly realised that I was looking at Le Reculet from the western side. It looked beautiful – as always – with its gargantuan, frosty frozen cross on top. And it looked all wrong. It took my breath away. Not in a “oh wow!” way. But in a “what a total fuck is that?” way. And that is putting pretty words on it.
I literally bent over double. In a bend in the ski piste. Just before a long rise. After another long rise. I was tired. I was thirsty and hungry. I was alone. I had been in a bad mood and sent Medjool off skiing ahead. As I say I was punishing him as well as myself.
An ugly sensation grabbing my throat, squeezing my chest, thumping my belly. I let out one of those howls that we sometimes hear from mothers and fathers grieving their children. More animal than human. It wasn’t just Ed. It was Mike. And Julia. And Don. Always the four of them. Too many losses. Too much incomprehension as to why and how a 46 year old, a 49 year old, a 53 year old, and a 15 year old died, decades before they should have.
I know the timing is never right. Whatever a person’s age. There is no “right age”. No “right time to go”. Only perhaps for the person who has died. Never for the people left behind who love them and now have every day to figure out and fill up without them. Those for whom the present changes, the future, and oddly, the past too.
That Saturday morning, one of my bestest forever friends let me know her mother had died the day before – so the same date as Ed (and David Bowie). She was, I think 92. Perhaps 91. Twice Ed’s age. She lived twice as long as he did, maybe minus a year. Twice as long. Two times as long. And despite his youth, Ed wasn’t a spring chick.
And still – and still – the pain I know her daughters and her grandchildren will experience; the loss and gaping emptiness they will feel; the numbness; the shock and incomprehension. Not just in the coming days and weeks and months, but for years, possibly.
Too much. Much too much.
I drank some water. Ate a protein ball. Settled my crying somewhat so that I could manage both moving and crying. Carried on with my cross-country ski, sobbing a while longer. Not caring a hoot if anyone came my way. Totally alone.
An abnormally normal weekend away. Joy and sadness and grief all intertwined. Ugliness and love, bad behaviour and contrition, pain and more pain all layered into just a few hours.
And big gratitude to Medjool for holding all my crappiness. Please don’t take it personally.