I almost crashed on the way to the funeral.
I’d moved into the fast lane of the A1 north to let a car join from a slip road, however said car – a beat up Ford Fiesta – was only going at 30mph and decided to pull out into the inner lane, forcing me to do an emergency stop from about 75mph. Had I been in my old Polo, I wouldn’t have been able to stop – I thank the motoring powers-that-be that I bought my lovely little Micra, if only for its impressive breaks.
They squeak now, incidentally.
It got me thinking as I set off again, following a brief pause to get my breath back, about how fragile life is. We exist on a precipice where the tiniest event, if unexpected, can bring about disaster.
Seeing G-’s coffin made that feeling real. I always think of coffins as being colossal things but they’re not – in reality they’re just tiny boxes containing the sad remains of what was once an entire universe. When a person dies, it’s not just their body which stops, not just their voice and the abstract knowledge that they are ‘somewhere’. Their entire way of seeing the world ceases – from their opinions of music to the slightly different shade of blue their eyes pick up when looking at the sky. I think about the living – about the energy we radiate that makes us twice the size we physically are – and coffins begin to seem even smaller.
We leave behind pictures, scattered scraps of writing, and large, carved stones but really, no matter how hard we try to make our mark, we leave nothing. Our generation and perhaps the next will remember us, but beyond that… we’re little more than names.
I’ve decided to write down what I know of my family tree in case later generations are curious. Instead of a list of names and dates though, I’m scribbling a few facts about what the people I know are like. It won’t do them justice, but at least it’ll give future generations an idea of who we were… like I said before, the concept of the universe being deprived of my mother is not something I like to think about.