A long time ago, someone asked me why I write so prolifically about death.‘Why do you write about death all the time?’
I could have appeased them; given a simple answer like, ‘write about what you know’, but I didn’t.I see dead people.
Not ghosts or spirits, but every day I see my friends, some of whom have been dead for fifteen, twenty years. Their presence has not faded with the passage of time. Instead, today – right here and now – they are more alive in death than they were earthbound. Memories bite and they bite hard. They cut through me like a bitter wind making it far more trying to forget than it is to remember.
Some days I feel like I am nursing the dead; ferrying them around with every thought and intention. Sometimes I invite them, other times they invite themselves, shadowing me.
They come with sleep.
When I wake, they stay with me; scattering my thoughts where my day is wrought with details – their rituals, clothes, smell, their cough and their laugh, their beliefs, the families they never wanted to leave behind. I am reminded of them with food, film, books, music. Especially music.
I wait to sleep again to fall into a different dream.
They can be all consuming; the people in them so real I can almost touch them. But I miss them instead. Some more than others, but I mourn them all the same. It’s as though a chunk of my childhood has died with these people and a cavernous hole has been cleaved into my history. Death is a physical experience for me because I feel a little emptier with each loss. I think everyone does.
There are mornings where I wake with my lips upturned from a sequence where Melinda and and I have squirted ampoules of saline into a sleeping Paul Greenfield’s crotch. He wakes in fright and embarrassment, then tells us to go and fuck ourselves. We laugh and Melinda turns blue, but we don’t care.
Others leave me feeling scattered; dislocated from other people and from the day itself. Are these dreams a platform between living and dying, or are they just memories worming through my sub-conscious, locked up in what we call a dream?
Maybe they’re nothing at all.