Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mortality in fiction.

What I'm Listening To: Royksopp - Remind Me

What I'm Doing: Reading fanfics and being generally angsty.

Uh... some rather major spoilers for a novel I haven't written yet. If you're worried about it, don't read this next little paragraph.

I recently came to the conclusion that the main character in my next novel is going to die. I don't know if she's going to die victorious, or if it's going to be a total win on the side of evil.


I've been reading fanfics recently to get myself motivated for writing, and because I'm utterly sick of reading and rereading my books. Unfortunately, I seem to have chosen to read an author who writes uplifting and yet horribly depressing stories. The first one I read involved a murder/suicide plot, with the intention for eternal torture to be carried out after death. (I admit it, I'm a Harry Potter fan. I read and write more fics than I ought to. But because it's Harry Potter fanfiction, you can do a lot more with it than you could with a 'real life' thing, what with all the magic.) That said, the perpetrator planned to capture his enemy in a portrait for the torture, but he died before he had a chance to implement his nefarious scheme. He then became trapped in the very portrait he'd planned for his revenge, and he became friends with the person whom he was going to kill. Over the years in the story, they fell in love, and both ended happily in the portraits after the death of the other. It was such a bittersweet ending that I cried for about fifteen minutes.

Immediately following that, I began reading a fic in which Harry finds out he's going to die of cancer and he's got a year to live. Immediately, it struck me, because I've always been horribly aware of my own mortality.

My mother died when I was twelve years old. She left behind her new husband (my stepdad) a four month old baby (my brother) and myself. (as a result, I'm rather testy when people make 'your mom' jokes to me.) She had an aneurysm in her brain (one of the blood vessels in her brain burst, for those that don't know) and while she was in the hospital after surgery, she had a stroke (a blood clot in the vessels of the brain. I'm not trying to insult anyone here, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I even found out exactly what a stroke was - I'd known she had one, but I didn't know what it was.) and died. She was only thirty four years old.

It's been ten years since then. This October will make it eleven years. As a sort of traumatic reaction to losing her so suddenly when I was so young, my mind blocked off nearly all of my memories of her. I wouldn't recall what she looked like if not for the pictures I cling to, and I can't remember what her voice sounded like, or anything. But it also means that I just literally don't remember much of my childhood. I don't remember things like my seventh birthday, or the details of any Christmases, or who I went to school with, nothing. I call it traumatic amnesia, but there's probably a more technical/proper term for it. I've always been fascinated with amnesia as a condition, but it wasn't until last year that I applied it to myself and recognised that I had amnesia. Clearly, I remember who I am, and I remember her name, and whatnot, but I don't remember any details of my early childhood. It's not until I was well into high school that I have any sort of linear memories and not just scattered snapshots in my brain.

But back to the point of this blog entry. Just a few months after my mum died (I refuse to use euphemisms like passed away - she didn't pass on, she didn't go away, she died.) my grandfather died of an aneurysm in his heart.

Just a year or so after that, a boy in my town was hit by a car and killed. He went to my school, he was around my age.

In 2oo5 my grandmother died of cancer.

But (naturally) the death of my mother affected me the strongest. Because she was so young when she died, I've never really considered living past thirty, myself. I don't intend to kill myself when I reach 31 or anything so stupid. I want to live past thirty, but I never really thought that I would. I still don't. Anything I plan to do - I plan to do it within the next ten years. I'm only twenty three right now, but I intend to pack a lot of living into the next seven to ten years. I want to see the world in that time, because I'm so aware that life can end in an instant. Billy - the boy who was hit by a car - was riding his bike down the highway, on his way back from seeing a girl he'd met at the local fair. He liked her, they may have dated. He certainly didn't intend to die when he did. But in an instant, his life was gone and there was no more Billy Black. My mum had a twelve year old daughter, a new husband, and a four month old baby. The last thing she wanted to do was die when she did. She never got to see me through high school, something I'd always counted on her being there for. She was never with me when I dated, or around to show off embarrassing baby pictures of me in the bath. She never got a chance to see Alex grow up. He's going into middle school this year. Sixth grade. But there's still a possibility that he won't make it through. There's a chance that he'll never grow up. There's a chance that we could all die tomorrow, and most people don't think of it. They get up, they go to work, they trudge through life like it's a burden, never realising how precious it is until it's gone.

I'm not nearly so arrogant as to believe that I'm impressive or interesting enough to write an autobiography that people will want to read, but I'm going to write it, or something similar to it, anyway. I want to leave something of me behind when I go, something that says, I WAS HERE! I lived! I breathed! I loved!

But it will be, inevitably, a story about death.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. damn, girl, way to put it all out there! maybe people WOULD read a memoir from you. i wouldn't discount it.

    life, as much as we may some days think we hate it, is precious. when asked the question, "if you only had 6 months left to live, would you want to know it?", my answer has always been yes.

    we are all alive, but we don't always live. if my time is coming up and i have the option to know that, i want to. but the simple truth is, i probably won't know. so the type of things i would want to do in those last 6 months, i should just DO. i need to stop thinking that i have forever to get around to these things, b/c i just don't. none of us do.