The Business of Living


I tried to remember what life was like before you died.

It feels as though I am watching old home movies of us, drinking wine and trying to be sophisticated.

I was the sensible friend, I think, or where you?

Perhaps we might not be friends now but we were when you died, best friends they said, so the mantle stays forever.

A funeral director told me about the body of a boy so badly charred that it couldn’t be viewed by the family. The mother wept so much that they tied a ribbon to the wrist of her son and opened the casket enough so the mother could hold onto the apron string till the end.

After you died, life wasn’t the same or was it exactly as it was supposed to be?

I worried for my children last night. I lay in bed and thought about how hard it is to be an adult.

Save money-go traveling-have sex-find true love- find work you love- work for yourself-eat more plants-try the swordfish

And still, I like being alive but I am not sure I do it very well.

I have made mistakes. I been everything I despise and I have, at times, been the kernel of my very best self.

The morning of your funeral, your father had to hammer back the heel of your shoe that had come loose. Did he fears that you might trip on your way to the next stage?

The funeral director told me that people buy new shoes for the dead to wear in their eternal bed. But we don’t wear shoes in bed when we are alive, he wondered.

Wedding dresses are also common. I no longer fit into mine, I laugh. It is in my wardrobe, boxed, waiting for me to be thin and dead enough to be reworn.

Four suicides in a month, the funeral director whispers to me. All women. We are getting better at it.

And why wouldn’t we?

Why would we not choose our exit date?

There is so little else to choose and have control over. Our bodies, our right to choose, our pay rate, our safety, our consent, our right to stay alive.

We we circle back to the start.

I tried to remember what life was like before you died.

I thought I could choose. I could travel. I could say no. I could eat the Swordfish. I could drink the wine. I could dream of a life filled with music, and art, and wine and connection, and I would never have chosen what was to come.

We tied a ribbon to each of our wrists when we became friends, and then ran like hell towards the future, until you tripped on your broken heel and left me to go on ahead without you.

My ribbon still hangs from my wrist. Sometimes when I am sleeping, you tug at it until I let you into my dreams.

It’s oh so quiet, you sing and I wake with my pillow wet from tears. It’s oh so still, I reply and I get up and go on with the business of living.