Writing is an incredible thing because somehow more than speaking aloud, it allows for something to be described in a way that the reader feels themselves in the situation. When writing fails to achieve this it loses its purpose and its value.
Five years ago, when I was 17, a series of events occurred which I have always felt compelled to write about and more than anything always wanted to write about, simply because of the incredible feelings that these events provoked. I have struggled to write about these events not because it is painful for me to write about them (as they were painful events and it is painful, or at the very least sad, to write about them) but because I have found it completely impossible to find the words to accurately communicate these situations and the feelings associated. By feelings I don’t really mean feelings that I felt personally but more a feeling that was in the air.
There is something about death that for the few weeks surrounding its occurrence causes everything to change. It changes back again after a time. And after that time the feeling that was there, this intense, quiet, empty feeling disappears and just like the person who has also disappeared becomes hard to remember in any kind of clear detail.
Memories are all that can be relied upon to analyze what this feeling is and as much as human beings’ instincts are to trust memories the truth is that memories are false. They are created by us and distorted by our perception of events and we will never be able to objectively analyze what really happened or what we really felt unless we feel it again.
This change that I have never found the words to describe, this feeling in the air, affects everybody who knows about the death, not just the people who know the person who died. That is the extraordinary thing about it. It is something very human and very scary that we seem to find easier to ignore and, as I myself have found through trying to write about this over and over again, this change in the air is something very hard to even recognize exists.
When we loose somebody ourselves we are reminded of our own humanity and still when somebody we know loses somebody this reminds likewise alerts us to our own vulnerability. But I don’t believe that this is the reason for the change in the air. I think the reason is that death holds the implication that people, the most essential things in our lives and our world, can be lost completely out of our control. We live in a world where everything else can be controlled and replaced but we cannot control ourselves, or the people who surround us. This idea that something – someone - can simply be ‘lost’ is incredible. Something can just go away and we don’t know where it went. That doesn’t happen with anything else and it doesn’t really fit comfortably into the way that we think about all of the other facets of our existence.