Sunday, February 27, 2011

Too Little, too Late

- In memory of Romain

Here I am joking around about death and funerals and have just heard that one of my cousins killed himself recently. I do apologise for being insensitive. I am sorry too, that I didn’t visit this branch of the family while I was in Europe, not that it would necessarily have helped.  As a family we tend to focus on our achievements and what is going well. We don’t talk about problems and we do that as a society as well. 

Then there’s a house in my street, which I pass a couple of times a week. It intrigued me a bit because of the mural outside and I wondered what the person was like who lived inside. Usually though, when I pass I am on my way somewhere else.  This week I finally got up the courage to ask about the grape vines that grow outside. I have been wanting to preserve some vine leaves for Dolmadi, but wasn’t sure if these were ornamental grapes or real ones. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
There was no answer when I knocked on the door, only a notice from the council saying he had to cut the grass or he would be fined.  Just as I was leaving and closing the gate, a man walking by told me that the owner had died in hospital last week. As with Raimon, I wish I had done it earlier. It may not have made any difference, but I wouldn’t be wondering if it could have.

I don’t think I should stop talking about dying though. It’s a big taboo in our age -and death -denying culture which makes it all the more devastating especially for the families left behind. I didn’t think it was as bad in Germany.  I can remember how shocked I was the first time I visited and saw photos in the paper of people in body bags after a freeway accident. One of the reasons they don’t report all the suicides here – almost double the number of road fatalities, is that they are afraid of copy -cat attempts, though that doesn’t seem to stop them reporting murders and other crimes. Nor does it stop people committing suicide. Over two thousand people in Australia ended their own lives in 2008 and 55, 000 attempted it. Far better to talk about it and see if we can help. I feel certain too that if we were shown images of what confronts police or ambulance officers after an accident, or how devastating it is for families, we would be ten times more careful on the roads and a lot a lot nicer to each other while we are alive.  

So if I have learned anything from these events, it’s Don’t Wait! There isn’t always a tomorrow and sometimes people die for want of just such things. I guess that’s why I hate eulogies too. If you have something nice to say, don’t wait till people are dead.

Goodbye Romain. I am so sorry I didn't get to know you better and my heart goes out to your family. 




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