If you haven’t noticed, I think about death a lot, cracking wise around the corner. It forces the moment, keeps me on the tip of my toes and reassures me that, at the very end, I’ll be in the arms of a lifelong friend. I won’t be alone.

As a pigtailed, little girl in the kaleidoscope of my brain, instead of letting the sappy-happy ending of PC children’s books dull me to sleep at night, I’d lie in the dark in my tucked-in bed, clasp my hands across my chest, slow down my breathing, gulp one last breath, and try to bring myself to the brink of death.

What did it feel like to die?

I obsessed, as heaven rocked overhead. Good thing I was lying down, because I could have passed out.

In film school, I wrote a tragi-comedy about my funeral. I wanted to imagine that people loved me with complete abandon. I wanted to show them how and why. I sweat blood on the keys writing my exquisitely passionate eulogy. I made myself cry.

Whenever I talk about dying, my 79 year-old mother says poo-poo, which is her way of warding off evil. I only hope it happens to me after she’s gone, because the way she talks, it would kill her. I’ll be sure not to tell her that my old pal JJ just dusted off his classic, fire-engine red Honda 400 Super Sport that scarred my right leg forever, and asked me to go for a ride.

Forever is a dream.

Sara always has the last word.

These days…

as the passing of time has it, I’ve been hanging with the final-chapter set, which is always a hoot. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, my beloved 84 year-old cousin Sara swears, I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t want to be a blithering idiot. I wonder, why this sudden interest in decorum? I have adored this woman my whole life for her lack of tact and lion’s roar. Poo-poo.

In the moment, I come down to earth. It will be quiet when we’re dead.


What are your favourite films about life and death? Here’s a trio of mine:

The Diving Bell and the ButterflyHarold & Maude, and Being There


Drawing by Brenda Keesal


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