Last week, I went to the third funeral for someone my age this year. It was a Catholic service, which meant a lot of stand up and sit down, stand up and sit down, wave the incense 'round the coffin, put your hope in the lap of Jesus. The priest said a young death like this one raises a lot of questions, but all we had to do was choose: either we could live in unhappiness, or we could live in joy and peace.
I find it hard to believe that's the choice.
If you think about death a lot, the way I have been doing for the past eleven months, a lot of things can seem irrelevant. People invite you to parties, and you think, Don't they know I'm grieving? But they don't know. Because you know how to perform your life as a normal person.
Meat has become irrelevant. I stopped eating it in March, after I drove past the meatpacking plant in Dodge City, Kansas, the city where my cousin had a diabetic seizure and died in a basement. It's a cliché, but like all clichés, it's true: the air smelled like fear.
I have abandoned the novel I started. I have lost my passion for it. At first, I thought I was just having some kind of writer's block, but I don't really believe in writer's block. Either I'm driven to write something or I'm not.
Instead of a novel, I am at work on a memoir, about death, and how we use social media to grieve. That's the start anyway. I have doubts about writing a memoir, especially at my age, in part because it's not something I ever thought I would do.
But this is the book that wakes me in the night. I feel possessed. I don't know how else to describe it.
I put a call out on Facebook, for recommendations of books about death & grief. I got over thirty suggestions, but most memoirs are about the loss of a husband, a wife, or a parent. One of my anxieties about writing this book (my age) is also one of my motivations: I am young, I have lost someone who was both instrumental and detrimental to my life, and there must be other people like me, who want to know they're not alone in the ambivalence of their grief.