I know a lot of dead people.
Not in a crime-drama, talk to ghosts and save the day kind of way. A lot of people I’ve known have died: three of my grandparents, one of my uncles, the great-aunt I’m named for, my dad, and, in the last six months, my estranged half-brother, and my brother-in-law. Those are the ones I’m related to.
Everyone has this kind of litany of the dead, though, especially as you get older. Older relatives die; that’s just kind of what happens. But the last two deaths were very sudden. My brother went into the hospital with a migraine that would not stop and died a week later of cancer. My brother-in-law died last weekend of what turned out to be a genetic disorder that literally made his heart burst.
I tend to be–almost cavalier, I guess, about death, because it happens to everyone and there’s nothing that can be done about it. My father died in my living room when I was thirteen after battling cancer for two years, and I still managed to be surprised, but I couldn’t remember to say he’d “passed on” or “was at peace” or “was in a better place” or whatever. He was dead. The rest of it is something none of us can know until we die.
Death doesn’t surprise me anymore. Maybe just because it’s been a rough six months, or maybe because I’ve always been kind of anxious and paranoid and afraid of abandonment or whatever, but–lately I am having a hard time investing in things. In school. In developing a career after that. In relationships with other people. In getting better at things I want to be good at. In anything.
I read freaking A Fault in Our Stars, for work, and John Green can bite me, but that’s a story for another day. If you don’t know, the book is about a girl who is slowly dying of cancer who meets a boy whose cancer is theoretically in remission, and they fall in love, and then the boy’s cancer comes back suddenly and he dies. The girl goes on about being a grenade waiting to go off and spew shrapnel into everyone she knows, everyone who cares about her or even knows her.
Who isn’t? Cancer doesn’t really make you special, in that regard; it just makes it more obvious. Maybe the rest of us are land mines, instead of grenades, because nobody knows where the explosion is going to be, but that doesn’t mean we won’t go boom.
I mean, I’m not going to off myself–I’m not ready to be shrapnel yet. It doesn’t even mean I want to cut myself off from everyone, or stop trying to get to know new people, or whatever. But lately everybody kind of looks like a bomb, and sane people don’t make friends with incendiary devices.
Anyway, that’s where I’ve been lately.