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Saturday 10 August 2013

Talking about it.

Because I could not stop for Death (712)

by Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death – 
He kindly stopped for me –  
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –  
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility – 

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –  
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –  
We passed the Setting Sun – 

Or rather – He passed us – 
The Dews drew quivering and chill – 
For only Gossamer, my Gown – 
My Tippet – only Tulle – 

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground – 
The Roof was scarcely visible – 
The Cornice – in the Ground – 

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads 
Were toward Eternity – 

After my blog post yesterday, we have been thinking and talking a lot about death - more specifically the random and desperately unfair death of G's friend.  Amidst the mass social networking hysteria, it has become clear to me that the major emotional reaction amongst the teens has been fear.

It has not been fear of death, as such, but more about the sudden and abrupt change in their perceptions of what life is.  For them, a tragic, unnecessary and unexpected death is no longer in the realms of a Hollywood movie but is a real experience which needs to be faced, processed and dealt with.  Death is not just for the old, infirm or terminally ill.  It can scream out of the dark corner and obliterate anyone at any time.  There is no big sunset and stirring music in this scenario.  Just a beautiful girl doing what she did most mornings - warming up her horse.

Teenagers have enough chaos in their lives as it is.  All those hormones, brain processes and biological changes are difficult to deal with under normal circumstances.  To suddenly have one of the concrete pillars of their knowledge - old people die, teenagers are immortal - demolished in an instant, makes me weep for their loss of innocence.  Never again will they be complacently happy in the knowledge that death is not for them.  

In a way, I envy them their instant communication and their ability to outpour their grief and shock in a melting pot of every rising emotion.  I do worry that the feeding frenzy of grief and the slightly competitive nature of "who knew her best" is getting out of hand but I do feel it is better out than in. 

For once, I agree with the eternal rallying Teenage War Cry - It really is NOT FAIR.

But most, I hate that Lucy's family are in this position at all.  I hope that everyone will remember that their grief supersedes everyone else's and I hope they can draw some small crumb of comfort from Lucy's peers.


As a fond mother, when the day is o'er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which, though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

(Thanks to Selina)

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