Remember death, the Romans said, to remind themselves of their mortality. The Victorians made a cult of it, with mourning brooches and rings made with the hair of deceased loved ones. Now we have Facebook memories. And this time of year they are filled with Zoe’s final days.
I re-share random photos and posts of this time because I can’t not. To do so is memento mori. Even when I don’t, I am quietly marking the days.
The days before we knew, and the days after.
The day we were sent home from Starship hospital being told it was a virus.
The day I photographed her in her bed in her newly painted bedroom that she slept in a handful of times.
The day she was admitted to Starship with frightening blood counts.
The day they told us.
The day we told everyone else
The days following, photographs, notes, dispatches to the world of her decline.
I am conscious some people might not want to see it (or see it again), after all, what do we gain by looking back to a time that was so painful and so traumatic?
Those days were filled with pain / they were filled with love. As there are midwives to see us into this world, now we were the midwives to her death, easing the path as much as we possibly could.
Looking back is a reminder of how, when our world got smaller and smaller, until it was just one room, then just one bed, with the spirit of Zoe slowly leaving us, there were only a few things in the world that meant anything;
The love we shared for Zoe and she for us.
The small joys she was able to have each day.
The love of family who took care of us.
The kindness of friends, and of those who barely knew us.
When I look back, I remember those things, and I ask myself whether the life I’m leading is one that honours those things, that honours Zoe’s love for and belief in me.
Am I surrounding myself with people who value those things? Who value me as Zoe did? What do I need to change so that I am?
We keep ourselves busy, we distract ourselves, we neglect to set the boundaries that honour our integrity. Here is your reminder to stop, to look back in order to look forward, to remember death, to not look away.
Memento mori, memento mori
A memento mori I was given that I put a lock of Zoe’s hair into. I no longer have it, as it was stolen in a burglary