Flirting with Death

Flirting with Death
Jessica Magnin
I’ve been lost in thought these past few days and haven’t been able to pause nor alter the direction of their spiral. There has been a lot of white noise and mind spinning without reprieve. To be honest, my thoughts haven’t been very friendly nor very up-lifting. Outside we are blessed with an abundance of light from this breathtaking weather yet inside, it’s rather dark. I am doing the best I can to welcome my thoughts and make space for these unwanted visitors, but the truth is, I want them to go home NOW and leave me alone.

There has been a lot of melancholy, a sense of deep sadness for our planet and how we have collectively taken it for granted, sadness for all the lost souls that are clinging onto whatever they can for solace, sadness for those that are losing their jobs and livelihood and deep sadness for the disconnection that so many feel including me. Maybe all this sadness is MY sadness for all those moments that I have taken for granted our Mother Earth, the times I have struggled with finding myself, sadness in the uncertainty of my future livelihood and the sadness I’ve felt when disconnected from my Spirit. There’s a deep sense of loss, death of what was. I am trying to be a good hostess and entertain the probability that these unwelcomed visitors are instrumental in understanding the bigger picture. I am trying to make room for them and allow them to stay as long as they may without hurrying their departure, but it is hard.

In a very small window of time, death has come to visit. I flirted with my mortality just a few weeks ago when I suddenly haemorrhaged, emptying my body of more than half its blood supply. This left me in the hands of life and death. It was almost surreal and still is to contemplate one’s death when simultaneously the woman in the hospital bed next to mine was experiencing her very own intimate relationship with death. In the terminal phase of her battle with cancer, she quietly requested the doctors to unplug the tubes and stop all meds so that she could greet death in peace. At night, the presence of death kept us company as we both fought to find our sleep.

From my hospital bed, I watched via FaceTime, my mother take her final breaths until there was utter stillness. Her stillness was earthed and yet absent. It was the first time I had seen a corpse, a body emptied of Spirit and breath. It was disturbing and yet peaceful. I know she left her body before her body left her. It felt strangely inhuman to accompany my mother digitally and yet there was no other option.

Since that tiny window of time, death has preoccupied many of my sleepless nights and inhabited my dreams. I am not particularly afraid of dying and cognitively know that it is part of living and yet, that is my head speaking out loud. Inside there is another reality that has summoned up a deep-seated melancholy that sleeps inside me since childhood.

As I sit with this very old melancholic feeling, a memory comes to mind. My parents are sipping their morning coffee whilst reading the headlines of the daily news. I’m peeling the thick skin of a grapefruit from our garden whilst catching a glimpse of very adult black and white images of slain corpses laying on the dirk somewhere off in a place called Vietnam. I remember seeing a full spread of graphic illustrations of nuclear bombs comparing which countries would survive whilst others would perish. It was highly X-rated and seemed too big for little girls. I don’t remember feeling fear that we would vanish in a mushroom cloud but I do remember feeling very sad, that kind of sadness that doesn’t go away.

This old archaic melancholy that has been summoned today is the once again recognition that life is so fragile and so are we. I think I understood this undeniable truth as a little girl. Underneath the melancholy is the surrendering of all resistance and the acceptance of my mortality. In theory, after the death of our parents, we are next in line. We don’t like to talk much about death and any talk is considered morbid. We are conditioned to skirt around this tabooed subject and prefer to throw rainbows and unicorns into our conversations rather than accepting the inevitable truth. Talking about death is uncomfortably disturbing because it ignites our deepest fear of the unknown. And yet, not talking about it doesn’t make it go away. It is always lingering in the background waiting for us to give it some attention so that we can begin living without wasting time.

Healing isn’t found in pasting love and compassion on everything. These elements come thereafter. The true healing comes from hanging out long enough, much longer than feels comfortable, in the depths of the murky waters where the lotus is born. Being conscious not to rush the process no matter how long it takes, I agree to sit in the mud and let the healing unfold. It is in these waters I see the raw acceptance of my fragility and ultimately my mortality. My days are limited and time is ticking. Death, as much as life, walk side by side.

One thought on “Flirting with Death

  • First off, I remember messaging Jeff, not sure if I messsaged you, I was very sorry to hear about your losing your mother! May your healing of your injury continue. Does the Dr./Dr.s know what caused the haemorrhage?
    I understand the thought of death in your mind, and keeping you awake. I had that after my accident in ’83. Over time (just less than a year) it went away.
    In the time we’ve been back in touch, I have noticed that you have been a wonderful hostess to many people, and are a very important part of many friends, family, and other people’s lives. There is so much you have taught and inspired so many. May your recovery get to 100% ASAP, and may you be able to continue doing what you do so well. I don’t know how many are counting on it, but I am certain there are many hoping that time will be the near future!

    James W. Liber

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