From my LJ archive
It’s not until you see a dead body for the first time that you gain a real intuitive understanding of the nature of the human form.
Even on the brink of life, things are going on. Smaller than breathing or a pulse, muscles remain in tension, holding your body in it’s natural posture. Blood holds vessels inflated and pinken the skin.
Some time around 1pm over a week ago the subtle chemical bias’ of billions of neurons degraded and gave in to entropy. No blood flowing to replenish the unstable organic formulae, they continue to react with each other in an increasingly oxygen-poor environment, consuming and corrupting the physical structure of the brain they exist in. Irrecoverable damage. The memories and behaviour that made up a unique person fell apart. My grandfather died.
I wish I’d been there to see it. It would have been easier to accept than seeing his week-old body covered in a thick layer of makeup to hide the colour of his skin. A shaving nick on his chin though, showing the smallest amount of the grey-green body-bruise colour.
The biggest issue is the shape though. That fantastic pressure our vessels contain inside us, literally inflate our skins like a balloon. And when that pressure is gone, like a balloon, the body deflates floppy and spent around it’s frame. The formerly rounded and reddened tip of a familiar and loved nose, gone as limp skin hangs over it instead, leaving it pointed and witch-like. The shell that once was my grandfather, now failed and slowly rotting in a box in a cold room. That unstable, dynamic, chaotic chemical orchestra of the human body, no longer maintaining itself. Life in any sense of the word, gone.
Looking at him, I thought of him being with my nan, his parents, brother and so on. All happy and idyllic, reunited at last in a better world than this material one. I thought of it really hard, because I want that to be happening. I want that to be real. I want him to still exist in more than just a memory, genetic code, and echoes in the lives of others. But I can’t, it’s a fantasy. That fuel for all afterlives, the sheer emotional need to still think of them as they were. So we dream them elsewhere, not for them, but for ourselves.
My grandfather has come to an end.
I do and am going to miss him more than I can put into words. I spent more time in his home than my own when I was young, and more time with him than my father that I can remember. I wish with all my heart he weren’t gone. But he is, just as I one day, technology aside, will too. Fragile loops of self-preservation, gone in time.
I wish I were wrong, and I wish there were something after this, but I’ve seen nothing to show me otherwise. And need is not proof.
But I could be wrong.
That’s why I put a couple of £1 coins into the coffin with him. And a £2 coin, with a note. catkin will understand that one. Because it’s a terribly small thing to do, in case I am wrong.
Funeral is on Monday. All these dots in the line of events are so surprisingly short.
Probate however is expected to take 7-9 months. Apparently the will is an even split between his three children, and my uncle knows what specific items he wanted various people to get. I will likely end up with a number of his tools, the clocks he hand-made, and a few other technical odds. Tools I could use while he was alive, and items I could examine anyway.
Net gain, the autonomy to try and fix two clocks.
It’s a pretty fucking cheap consolation prize for the loss of my grandfather.