A sister-in-law of a good friend passed away last week. W and I went to the wake last Saturday. We already knew she died from cancer and that, I imagined, she had time time to say her goodbyes like with most terminal cases. But apparently, it wasn't just the goodbyes that she had time to prepare for: She actually planned her funeral. She gave instructions on the dress (she wanted a white dress, not a top and pants), the venue (Nacional), and made a list of who to call up immediately after she passed away.
We stayed for an hour, W was chatting about work with the friend while I was quietly eating lemon squares and biko. Before we left, an elderly relative arrived in a wheelchair. She had a hard time recognizing people and her body looked like crumpled paper. Our friend's brother wheeled her near the coffin. She stood up with little help and took a few painful steps to look at the body. That was when her knees buckled and she had to be almost carried back to her chair. She approached the other brothers and sisters and said: Isa isa na.
One by one. We all fall down.
I realized that death didn't scare me that much and it was the growing old that really frightened me. The forgetfulness. The burden of crumpled limbs. And the goodbyes to people you love.
I ran out of cigarettes that same day, and didn't really crave for any. Woke up Sunday afternoon dizzy. Made lunch, still dizzy. I was washing the dishes when it crashed against me like a wave, an invisible slap across my face. High blood pressure? Withdrawal symptoms (that early)? Or just plain dastardly chores?