I’ve been thinking about birth and death lately. You know how those times — when a baby is born in your family, or someone dies — you completely check out of the world. You have permission to not answer the phone, to not go out, to drop everything.
Which makes me think of the poem, performed so beautifully in Four Weddings and a Funeral:
by W. H. Auden
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Those times in life when we stop, we also notice more. We see the little things we usually rush by in the daily bustle of life, the water on leaves.
Liminal means thresholds, the times between. In grief, you’re in that liminal space, that time between.
Blessedly, we haven’t had any deaths in our family in quite a while. A few years ago though, my older brother, Joe Luther, died, unexpectedly. Today is the anniversary of his death.
A couple of years ago I made a shrine for him, for El Dia de los Meurtos. It was part of an exhibit at the Indianapolis Art Center in 2006. Here is a picture of it:
What got me started thinking about death? One of the things was Kirsten Skile’s post on her blog about her grandfather’s funeral.
Slowing down and taking the time to notice things… Being an artist is about seeing things that others don’t see.
What do you see?