One of the worse things about people dying is that after a while, even though you miss them, you start to forget what they were actually like.
I cannot remember the way my grandfather used to laugh. I know he laughed a lot. I know he made me laugh. And still, when I close my eyes, I don’t hear it anymore. The same is true about my great grandaunt, she was my grandmother’s aunt and an incredibly generous and neat person, I remember her haircut and her nails and the skirts and cardigans she would wear but I am forgetting her voice.
I hate that. We should all videotape every person we love. This is what film should really be used for: memories.
Christmas is a time when most of the people I know think about death. You remember old Christmases with people who are not there anymore. Kids are all around and they giggle and they get into things and they point with their dirty fingers at shiny things and you find them cute and annoying and you remember yourself when you were a kid. For lots of people Christmas is not about religion or buying things but, instead, it’s about memories. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy Christmas. It is a time of year when we get some time to think about death and fragility.
My best friend almost died this last year. It was a big shock. He is one of the most vital, positive and squeeze-every-last-drop-out-of-life person I know. And he almost died. He is sick, his heart is sick and now he is teaching himself how to live in a different way with his slow and not-so-crazy-for-extreme-emotions blood pump. He will do it right. He has been doing it right. He keeps optimistic and ambitious. And I feel blessed and grateful that I did not have to say goodbye to him. We want to spend quality time together alone, without being surrounded by the dozens of people who also love him and also want to spend time with him alone. Just him and I. And Budapest, maybe.
So Christmas is about remembering the death and about plans. Basically about important plans to do before the dark one and his scythe come to take us. I support specific and doable plans. My plan, the one that I have been rolling around these last few weeks, is to not fuck up.
I am happy, I am stable and I just don’t want to ruin it. And I am focused on not making a mistake or doing something that could potentially blow things up. Something I have seen is that really very little is needed to destroy things. A bad decision there, an innocent lie here, an unsolved problem there and then trust and deep feelings are so easily ripped apart and maybe never put back together again. Mum made the decision to divorce dad seven years before finally doing it. She had it clear but she wanted to hold out because she thought it was better for us kids. The reason for the divorce: she did not trust her husband. I have the feeling my father never really understood how or why it all happened.
That brings us to my last point. You need to know yourself a bit if you want to improve any of your shit.
I am overweight. I have had a bit too much of everything unhealthy that I could get my hands on, or near my nose or my mouth. Without crossing over to the dangerous side of life, like when you stop doing other things because you are too interested in one thing , I simply haven’t been treating my body with much care or respect. It’s not just that I have been refusing to lead a healthy lifestyle, I also regularly make fun of vegans. That’s the kind of guy I am. I know it is funny for some people. I even have a friend who was worried because she did not know if her organic unprocessed sugar would harm my organism . I have built my personality around the idea of being like my grandpa; drinking, gambling and laughing until my mid-seventies.
But I would hate to die a single day earlier. There are so many things to do. There are so many people I still want to meet, maybe even see them grow and develop, and I don’t want to miss the chance to make them happy, to make them feel my love.
That is why this year my Christmas resolution is to take a bit better of care of myself.
I have seen far too close up many unfair deaths. People really young who died from diseases that were meant for the elderly, men that walked as much as they could through forests and mountains and then got cancer way too early. This is part of why I haven’t taken care of my body very much. Because sometimes you don’t get out a good return on your investment.
But I can imagine, when the day comes and you know your time is ending and you think about all of the things you did not achieve, it would feel really stupid if you think one of the reasons might be that you let the party go too long or let the feast be way too greasy. I can’t deny it: I get pleasure from excess and wine but I want to bring it down to a level where there are no regrets. I want to be healthy because I truly have the need to not die soon. To love a lot and be loved enough.