GUEST BLOG: BALLERINAS AND BOXERS; DEATH DIFFERENTLY by Mary Schnorrenberg
Dear Dad, 8 years ago today you checked out of this reality, like a thief in the night; no warning, no cares or cures for the repercussions and as always without awaiting anyone’s approval except your own.
You left in the same way, you had done growing up; just when we needed you the most. Though this time it wasn’t a need, it was a want I was left behind with. I deeply wanted to see your face again, see the softness in your eyes, desperately wanted to hear one last crude rude joke, followed by a wave of your outrageous belly laughs that would rock the block and everyone in it.
I wanted to say goodbye properly and maybe even bless you on your journey as I knew this life no longer brought you joy and meaning…
And hadn’t done for awhile.. I wanted to hug you one last time and say sorry, thanks, I love you and forgive you. Sure you invited me to come say goodbye; three times in my dreams, from South Sydney to South Sinai, yeh I got the call. Though I was only 6 months into my new reality in Egypt and those trips back to Sydney always left me jolted like Dorothy in Oz, for many months, so I ignored your beckoning and stayed selfishly. But I wrote you that long letter from the desert in Nuweiba, updating you on my life and by the fourth page, it had turned into a journey of acceptance, love and forgiveness for who you were and how you chose to live. I now know that that was the goodbye letter, that ultimately freed you and allowed you to pass. As within a month you were gone.
Shame that you left just when I started to know and like you; though I know you now, more in death, through my own life; as I’m definitely my fathers daughter.. Love always your daughter Mary. So my dad was a mean man. A loud, proud, brutal truth speaker with the cruelest tongue and hardest head. Though so much of his behaviour was due to the drinking, I remember in his lucid, sober moments, he was soft, kind and deeply depressed. In hindsight, he always lived as he pleased. Leaving his homeland of Germany by boat back in the 70’s to come to sunny Australia, seeking a different life, full of hope and trust in the unknown.
The dance of Dad’s life only revealed retrospectively when I view his timeline and major life events I see a vivacious man who lived fully for the moment; fully in the beauty, spontaneity, trust and flow of his life. I see that this hard headed man lived so gracefully and poetically - despite his drunkenness- like a Ballerina; buoyant, light and loose, pirouetting through the pains and pleasure of everyday life, with only his gut as guidance. When all along I though he was a deluded drink wasting his years away, he had it all figured, he epitomised Flow and letting go. As in life, so in death.
I truly believe that Dad chose his moment to die, called it in like the Buddhists do and deliriously danced his way to the afterlife with a couple of angels on each arm.. In comparison, my Mother was typical Egyptian; heart based, warm and sweet, fiercely protective of her kids. Always pushing and pulling and striving for better days, but now I see how she embodied the fighter, the Boxer.
Every day was a fight, there was always a situation, a setback, a drama, a disadvantage, an injustice and every day she was in the ring, fighting for herself. Throwing punches for her bi-racial children, throwing punches for her culture in a deeply racist society, throwing punches against her crazy, lying, horrible sister, punches against an absent husband, punches to battle her heart disease and bullshit doctor speak, punches against ageism and sexism and all the ‘isms’ she probably never understood.
Every day my mother was in the ring, and blow after blow, she got back up, even after three minor heart attacks, she’d return like Jesus on the 3rd day, until one day - the day a major heart attack struck her -she never came back. She threw punches til the end, dying the way she’d lived, giving a damn good fight.. Subsequently from seeing and experiencing the two very different deaths of my parents, I’m left with a heightened awareness of the impermanence of all of this reality. I now truly don't fear death as I've been curiously shining the light on it for close to 30 years now, trying to understand my mother's death.
Life and death go hand in hand, it’s the cycle of our nature and existence. Though our warped Western world view has got us believing that all death is bad, wrong and really shouldn't happen. We have been deluded into believing in our own mortality, that we can delay death and do our very best to prolong life, without ever considering the quality of that person's life we're extending. Do they even want to live? How well are they living if they are addicted, lonely or depressed and in isolation (like my dad was) or living on daily medications for medications and endless doctors' visits (like my mum was) or even hooked up to a machine that breathes for you. Is that really the best solution for humanity to truly be living well? Western doctors are perpetually trying to prolong lives, without factoring in the actual quality of one's life; surely the aim is not to just live long but well and right and fully. Because ultimately a life saved is just death postponed really. Postponing life to fill it with more, pain, suffering and misery shouldn’t be a priority.
As Charles Eisenstein so beautifully puts it in his essay The Coronation (https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/the-coronation/)
"Ours is a culture of Death deniers, from its hiding way of corpses to its fetish for youthfulness, to its warehousing of old people in nursing homes. Even its obsession with money and prosperity, extensions of the self -as the word 'mine' indicates - expresses the delusion that the impermanent can be made permanent through its attachments." The Western world in the light of COVID 19 has collectively began another endless war, this time the War on Death; another unseen enemy we're going to conquer and defeat as is the language of our leaders.
Personally I am beyond fatigued with this ludicrous language of war, wars that we never ever win and that actually make the enemy stronger- Isn’t it about time to adopt a different view and embrace peace now?
The best way I have found to move into peace is to get comfortable with one of life's only “Known” certainties; which is the fact that we all will die one day. We need to get familiar with the landscape of death and dying, of the afterlife, suffering, euthanasia, terminal illnesses, dreams, OBE's and our subconscious minds.
A great place to start is reading; the Tibetan book of the dead, On death and Dying; Elisabeth Kubler-Ross ( who named the 5 stages of Grief) or my absolute favourite; Tuesdays with Morrie and possibly attending one of the growing and popular Death Cafes. The sooner we come face to face with our own mortality, the sooner we get comfortable with the inevitable. As the Buddhist so eloquently inform us; Fear of Death is a Fear of Life.Death is not an ending, it's a new beginning and ultimately Homecoming. RIP Hubert Schnorrenberg aka Mad Max xx 25 MAY 2020
Author: Mary Schnorrenberg
With special thanks to Mary for sharing her writing with us.