Death and Coffee

Despite the persistent rain I walked by the Granthams Wharf today and marvelled at how efficiently and quickly our small community was able to rally and get it fixed and even improved.  Donations of money, time, materials, music and art made the swift reconstruction possible. A true testament to our community spirit.  The pier was practically destroyed in a perfect combination of high tides and gale force winds, which washed tons of driftwood off the beaches and drove the watery logs into our wooden jetty. Disasters unite people, goes the saying. Just look at Paris and France and how the nation and its people, indeed the world, came together as one community, mourning the fiery devastation of Notre Dame Cathedral. Within one day enough donations were pledged to rebuild it. I vowed to raise a glass with Campbell in honour of community spirit. Also I had an interesting topic for tonight’s discussion, sure to raise an eyebrow or two.

‘Have you ever heard of Death Cafés?  I asked Camp, after we set down our cold drinks.

‘Death Cafés?’ he said, as expected, with a frown.

‘Yes, apparently they are now happening in over sixty countries. It’s practically a movement. There is one in Bern, Switzerland, and it’s usually packed. There is cake with skull icing to be had. And people talk about dying.’

‘Really. Doesn’t sound very uplifting. Sounds a bit morbid really.’

‘No, no, nothing like that. It’s ordinary people, doctors, secretaries, teachers and such just talking about dying: Their fear of it, their theories, their hopes, decisions and understanding of death. The tabu is a tabu no longer, it’s the main topic,’ I said.

‘Well, if you want my five cents, death and dying is usually a mess, mostly pain filled, grunts, nasty smells and desperate attempts to cling to life. I for one wish for a quick one, a merry one and a clean one.’

‘Exactly Camp, that’s the spirit. You’d fit right in. People talk about their ‘bucket lists’, to forestall regrets on your deathbed. They remember their dearly departed ones and how to have time for grief in this modern, busy life and how to deal with their own mortality. It’s the new popular theme my friend. Death and dying and nobody gets out alive. Comes with a cappuccino and a piece of skull cake.’

‘You’re pretty funny, you know, Camp said.  ‘Death is not a cliché and not something you can put on a wish list to Santa Claus. It’s hopefully a long ways off in the murky future but to discuss it with strangers doesn’t really interest me. Death is a private affair, to be born with dignity and strength, not to be lamented in public.’

‘Camp, you’re so wrong there, I said, shaking my head. ‘Why not talk about it, why not admit that we’re all afraid of dying, nor do we want to live forever. It’s the final conundrum, the riddle and the mystery.’

‘Well I guess it’s an easy subject for those who believe in an after life or reincarnation but not so easy for those of us who see death as final. Curtain. End of road. Only darkness.’

‘Death has always been brutal in public, used as the ultimate punishment but it is sure to be the last thing we do, the last mess we’ll make. Only if we accept death as part of life can we stand the more mundane aspects of living like working, doing the dishes, going to the dentist, paying the bills, etcetera,’ I said.

‘You’re a bit of a philosopher when you had a beer in you,’ Camp said and signalled Rosie for a refill.

‘We’re only here for a short time and our creed should be to make the best of it,’ I said. ‘Stay positive and make every moment count and enjoy each day you’re alive and well.’

‘Easy to say from where you’re sitting,’ Camp said, but tell that to the freezing beggar sitting on the sidewalk in front of your bank machine.’

‘Or to the single mom, trying to make ends meet and give her kids an equal chance,’ Rosie said while putting down two frosty pints.


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