Monday, 28 January 2013

empty chairs & empty tables


Death was some sort of a background music that threaded through my weekend.

It started on Friday morning when a friend and I had a psychological discussion about his fear of dying.  I have known about this for some time now but it was only during our talk that I understood how painfully consuming it could be for him.

Later that day I received the horrible news about the death of a friend back in Manila.  A gunman killed him outside his home.  It was painful and difficult to accept that I will never see him again.  I am still processing his death, crestfallen for the beautiful wife he left behind.

How can someone be so petrified of dying when it’s the death of people you love and care for that seems to be more frightening and agonizing?


My friend Mar and I saw Les Miserables on Saturday night.  I’ve read the book, seen 2 movie versions and experienced the musicale 3 times.  I know the story, the characters and Cameron Macintosh’s lyrics.  Almost everyone dies in the end.  No surprise there.

But when Eponine, the universal symbol of unrequited love, dies in Marius’ arms and in her last breath manages to utter that she is finally happy, sleeping in his arms at last.. How sad is that?  Is death a better alternative to a life of misery and despair? 

On Sunday night on Downton Abbey, Lady Sybil dies due to childbirth complications. I did not see that coming.  (Apologies for the spoiler to readers who have not started Season 3.) Why Downton creator Julian Fellows opted to kill off this beautiful character whose heart is full of love and kindness is a mystery to me.  And because I ridiculously involve myself with tv characters and plots, I grieved for her poor mother.

I was in 5th grade when I was diagnosed with first stage Leukemia.  True story.  While my parents made heroic efforts to hide this from me, it was my sister, who casually told me while eating a bag of potato chips, that I was sick and was going to die soon. A normal 10 year old would most likely burst in tears and panic. I, however, did not get scared.  

I went to my room and I picked out my favorite dress. A lacey number with flowery prints.  I put it on, combed my hair and positioned myself on top of my bed.  I put my hands together over my belly and closed my eyes.  I pretended I was in a coffin and practiced being dead.

It seems macabre for a 10 year old.  I don’t know why I reacted the way I did.  I remember it with fondness, though, like a Wes Anderson movie.  But it is how I feel about death even to this day.  I am not terrified of it.  Maybe because deep down I believe in afterlife and I get to be the daughter of Remington Steele in my next life, the way I daydreamed as a kid every time I witnessed my parents fight.  Maybe death in my head was the portal to peace and happiness. Or  maybe because when I die I honestly think I’ll be able to fly, be a ghost and scare all those people who were mean to me.

Perhaps the way I am with relationships and airports is the same way I am with my own life.  I would rather be the one leaving.






18 comments:

  1. Facing one’s own death is radically different from being concerned with the death of others. My own death means the end of my possibilities, the total disintegration and the end of my world. The fear of my own death comes from the fear of my extinction as a human being. This causes me a great deal of anxiety. I may be able to face other people’s death but may find it virtually impossible to come to terms with my own death.

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    1. Does this have something to do with your existential crisis in the 90s? That you have come to terms with your role as a human being that to cut it short would mean a great loss for mankind?
      You know what? Maybe when you have children you will see how much mortifying it is when you think about their demise compared to your own. Who knows, with you...

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    2. Perhaps it stemmed from there, you're right.
      Your friend who has necrophobia..does he/she have children? I do not think it makes a difference at all.

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    3. Yes, he has children. He just said you've articulated his fears well. You're prob from the same blood line, who knows.

      FYI, Necrophobia is fear of dead things/people. Thanatophobia is fear of death itself.

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    4. Thank you for the info, nerd.
      (Bitch!)

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  2. People fear death even more than pain. It's strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over. Yeah, I guess it is a friend. -Jim Morrison

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    1. Jim Morrision also said "Death makes angels of us all and gives us wings where we had shoulders smooth as ravens claws." :-)

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  3. Sybil's death was heartbreaking! I cried too. All Downton fans did, Im pretty sure about that.

    How did you find Anne Hathaway in Les Mis? I'm curious to know.

    Sorry about your friend. I read your last entry. You were awesome together. :)

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    1. Not a fan of Anne Hathaway, though she did justice to Victor Hugo's Fantine. It's just that after her speech at the Golden Globes, I cant help but think that while she's doing this role, her inner voice is telling her "oh my God, Im getting an Oscar for this!"

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  4. where do you get your odd sense of humor? Funny reaction to the news about your death...over potato chips!! I really like this essay. Powerful loaded last words, Miss Bebsy!
    cheer up!

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    1. I surround myself with odd creatures. lol
      Thank you vmuch.

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  5. I can visualize the 10 year old you rehearsing the role of the dead through the lens of Wes Anderson. Maybe you can write a short script and send it to him? I would love to see it on screen! Wonderful, whimsical and macabre.... very Anderson! Im enjoying your voice. Cheers, Bebsy Capul!

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    1. Thanks for the follow, Ciara! Love the Frida avatar!

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  6. Who watches Les Miserables while grieving for a friend? LOL

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  7. I like your narrative voice.
    I enjoyed this as well as the 'Danke' piece (your Thanksgiving article on this blog).

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