I was 13 and I was lying in bed gazing at my AHA poster on the wall but actually thinking about my Granddad funeral and it suddenly struck me. Death meant you would be gone. My Mum and Dad were going to die, my brother, my sisters…my friends. I was going to die. And my mum and dad couldn’t fix it. I tried to figure out any possible way that I could avoid it and not die but I couldn’t and it absolutely terrified me.
Ever since then at different times in my life I’ve still managed to get myself in a right state about death. What happens when you die? Is this life is really part of something bigger? Is there a point to all and if there is a point… am I living it? Am I doing it right? I can’t figure it out of course and I get anxious and stressed and I get an aching pain just over my right eye. A couple of years ago September 2014 was one of those times.
I was driving home from dropping my son off at school with my 1 year old, Ruby, in the back seat and that stressed sore head on me. We were beside the entrance to the secondary school when a just seagull strolled out across the road in front of me. I slowed down but then Bang (Clap). I felt and heard the thump as the car collided with the Seagull. Why didn’t it just fly up out of the way like they normally do? How does hitting a bird make such a loud noise? It felt like I had knock down something really big and important. But I didn’t stop. There were cars piled up behind me and I panicked and drove on.
Back outside my house I felt terrible. I imagined the children going to school confronted by death. I could practically see their faces twisted in horror. There was no way I wanted to be responsible for their revelation about death. I had to move the seagull. I rang the council but it was too early and no one answered. Then I rang a vet who said that if it was still alive I could bring it in. Alive? I hadn’t even thought of that. I imagined it squirming and writhing away on the road and then flapping away in the backseat with Ruby. I hoped it wasn’t still alive!!!
I drove back and got out to look. It was dead and I was so relieved! But I couldn’t pull myself away from looking at it. It lay there so pristine and white, without a single blemish but totally lifeless. And I had done that. I had made something gone. And I didn’t know where or what that meant. I felt sick. Then a really strange thing happened. A feeling of total calm came over me. And I knew in that moment that the seagull’s life wasn’t gone, it had just moved from one space to another and it was the most natural thing in the world. There was no reason to be afraid of death at all.
Then I was rudely interrupted by Beep Beep I looked up and a man in a car was making faces at me. I made a face back ‘Can you not see I’m having a moment here’ but then I remembered I was standing in the middle of the road. I jumped into action. I had to get rid of the body. Now I’m not particularly proud of what happened next. I called into a nearby house and squawked to this guy…I’ve killed a seagull and the cars are all beeping at me and my baby is in the car and I need to move it so the school kids aren’t traumatised!! until he came out in his pyjamas and scooped it up into a black bag himself. I immediately took it from him mortified and said… thanks that’s great,..don’t worry I’ll dispose of it.
Outside my house again I regretted it as now I had to figure out what to do it. I thought about burying it in the back garden but we’re renting so I decided to put it into one of the public bins on our road. The seagull was so big I could feel its bones and its beak and webbed feet as I squeezed it in. All my profound thoughts of death went out the window and I was back squawking again. Aghhh get it away from me!! Why do they make the hole so smalls!!
But finally in my door with Ruby I stopped and breathed out all the frantic embarrassing patter and thought back to that moment on the road when I saw two worlds collide and knew that life didn’t disappear it just moved. And that lovely calm feeling swept back over me. So I closed my eyes and said thank you so to the Seagull for helping me not to be so afraid of death and I wished it well on its journey from world to another.