From Jester To King LXXIX
By Simon Barget
Every so often a man has to die and I too had to die and it is not something that we’re always prepared for. But if you’re fortunate enough to have someone holding your hand, someone there by your side, then the dying will be all the more easy. It might even be nothing at all and a pleasant experience. All it takes is for someone to reassure you, to tell you it’s ok to let go. Because dying is just a surrender, letting what’s happening happen, and what’s happening always happens anyway, it’s just that you get conned into thinking that you’re in control and you put yourself in the way.
And when it happened to me she was there by my side, Daria was her name, well she wasn’t there to start with, but as soon as I called her she came right over, and she came over almost instantaneously.
I was lying down in this big room and there were people lying down around me, people I didn’t know all too well, people I wasn’t that comfortable being with, and it wasn’t quite like being in a hospital, although there were parallels, all these beds lined up next to each other, and it was dark and you couldn’t see a thing, and thinking about it now, I suppose I could have just left the room but something kept me in there, something inside said I should stay, it’ll do me good, so I did, and I could hear the insects and the birds and I could feel the gluey air all around, and I was hot and couldn’t see, and I started to sense that something was changing inside me, and this thing felt foreign, and it kept gurgling and brewing, and it kept receding and coming back into my blood and into my veins, it felt like something was taking me over, and it was something I hadn’t experienced before, something scary, I no longer knew my body as well as I had done, and that’s not to say I knew I was dying, I just felt it as losing control over something I usually had control over and felt I should hold onto.
A little bit of panic set in as I wondered if I was going to be able to hold it together, to keep myself in the way I had known and experienced myself up to this point, in the way I was used to being me, but the change was thankfully mild and I was so used to being self-reliant, so used to thinking I was the only person who knew anything about me, my feelings and processes, that no one else could help me or have any input at all, well I was so used to this, that it hadn’t crossed my mind that I could call Daria over – there was another girl – but it was Daria I wanted, and for a few minutes more I lay struggling amidst the change that had come over my body.
Then in spite of myself I call out her name. In spite of my shame and not wanting to show weakness and not wanting to announce to the whole room that I too could use help, it must have got to the point where I felt I couldn’t cope on my own. I say Daria, Daria, can you come over? Was I overreacting? Should I have been able to go it alone?
And as she stands my bed asking me what is the problem, I almost feel like retracting, I feel like telling her I’m ok since something tells me she thinks I’m overreacting. But again something more settled directs me, and I can’t remember the exact words but I ask her, like child to its mother: I simply say is it ok to let go?, Something inside is filled with this notion of surrendering, letting it all happen, whatever it is, despite the other thing that always came over the top and stifled it out.
But she knew what I meant and I wasn’t expecting it. I hadn’t expected her to understand. I hadn’t expected her to know how I was feeling and I felt like I’d have had to have gone into some tiresome explanation. But she told me that was the idea, and I really was surprised because I hadn’t understood that the whole point was to let go, no one had told me -- they’d told me a whole heap of other stuff -- and then I said to Daria can you just stay here a while, because I needed her and for once in my life I was able to say it.
And without the slightest hint of resistance she stayed, I’m here she says, and as soon as I realise it’s ok to surrender and that Daria’s right by my side I feel better, I let this foreign thing take me over and see where it takes me.
And where I go is not by any means some distant galaxy some parallel universe, the tunnel of light, it’s this subtle place in myself that I hadn’t experienced yet, a place without struggle, where everything is the same but softer, warmer and kinder, a place where things aren’t so defined and where you don’t need to know. I can’t remember if Daria actually held my hand or even touched me, I don’t think she stayed all that long by my bed, but she did her duty, not that she’d suddenly become Mother Theresa or anything, but you see you have to ask sometimes, you can do with some help and though I hadn’t wanted to, the thing I feared along wasn’t the thing that actually happened. In fact they were in no way related.