“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”- Banksy
One of my favourite quotes, to be interpreted as you like.
For me, I thought of it the same way many people do. With the idea that we die as a human being in the moment we take our last breath. Yet our spirits live on until that moment when somebody utters your name for the very last time. Heartbreaking, I know.
I believe now that we not only die twice but in fact some of us, the unlucky ones (you could say), die three times.
The first time a person dies is almost more painful than the second. That first time isn’t what people would define as death but it feels almost worse. In order to explain this let me tell you a story.
9 months ago… I had arrived home for my holidays, to be with my Mum (who had terminal cancer) and my sister. Mum was one of those strong-willed independent and oh so clever kind of ladies. So it took me by surprise when she began forgetting simple tasks. Within a week she was almost a shell of herself, forgetting if she had eaten, falling asleep in her food, arguing with me over which pills she was meant to take. Incoherent and unrecognisable… I began going to bed at night thinking horrible thoughts “that women in the other room is not the one that raised me.”
My mother had begun the process of her first death, the one where the person you love slowly fades away and is replaced with nothing but a “robot”, someone who is so lost inside, even they don’t know who they are anymore. Don’t get me wrong this is a scary process not only for family but also for the person slipping away, Mum would ask questions like “Why am I like this” “Why can’t I remember anything” “help me”. That last part is the worst, when they beg you for safety and all you can do is watch them fall.
Many people have to endure this first death, the death of loosing who they are, and for that I cannot apologise enough. I truly hope you get through this, I know its not easy but here I stand at the other end, having gone through it, I may not be thriving but ohhh how I’m surviving.
Closely following the first death comes the second, the physical death, when your loved ones heart stops beating, when their brain stops thinking and when their lungs finally stop breathing. Now you must mourn again, first you struggled with the mental loss and now the physical loss has come , far too soon and you must learn how to deal with this.
Both these first two deaths are almost as bad as each other. The only saviour – the third death. The one thats preventable ~ a third death occurs when somebody says your name for the last time. When all the people who loved you slowly forget, or when the hurt becomes too overwhelming they cannot bare to say your name. This death, I believe is preventable, at least for some of us.
We endure too much in the first two deaths that we must do everything we can to stop the third. We must continue to remember the people that we held so close to our hearts. For as long as I live I will never stop talking about my Mum, I will continue to tell stories of her, I will yell her name over mountaintops if thats what it takes. For my heart has taken enough, already holding on by threads – slowly will I sew piece by piece back together. Healing means remembering and remembering means enduring things that are painful, obstacles we must overcome. We once loved that person with all our hearts, so don’t we owe it to them, don’t we owe them the right for their names to be heard over and over again, don’t we owe them absolutely everything we have left in us.
~ You will never have to endure another death Mum, for I will never stop saying your name.