The weather has been really beautiful lately, so warm and light with not a single cloud in the sky. It reminds me of that endless, nostalgic Summer I always talk about, because I feel like no matter what, I always go back to it. It’s at the core of everything for me, 2013 changed everything and Lana and Frank have reminded me of an endless, nostalgic Summer ever since. I can’t help but think about it every time I see a blue sky.
I’ve been going for walks lately; during lunch breaks at work my friend and I go for a walk through the cemetery not far from us which, may sound creepy, but is actually really beautiful.
I’ve always felt connected to death, I feel like she and I understand each other very well – we’re on the same page. I befriended death and it became my closest friend, whilst simultaneously also being my worst enemy. I feel comfort in the sad things because it’s what I know best – I understand it more than anything, I could walk through it with my eyes shut. I could even give you a tour if you like, I feel like I’m an expert in every aspect. They say that when you start to get better from the sad things you feel lost, because you don’t understand how to navigate this new way of life you’ve never been exposed to before, therefore sadness naturally became a comfort for me, it’s my home.
Anyway, back to death. I find death very interesting; I find the concept of it the most interesting thing I’ve ever thought about because even though the thing itself is so blatantly obvious, it’s actually one of the world’s biggest mysteries. What is it, exactly? Where do we go? Where do our souls go and the memories we created? What happens?
We’ll never find out until it happens to us and by then, it won’t matter anyway. We won’t be able to pass the message on.
In the Summer of 2013 I don’t think it rained for a single day. Every day I came home after being outside in the sun since the early morning to find new patches of sunburn on my face – the result of sitting outside my best friend’s memorial from dusk ‘til dawn because I had nowhere else to be and I didn’t know where else to go.
Those following months I visited her grave the few times I could find the strength, and I will never forget the atmospheric feeling I had during those few times. The sun still continued to beat down on the world around it, I was rosy cheeked and freckle faced, wearing my denim Levi’s with my headphones in and blocking out the world around me. I didn’t feel like I was a part of it then, anyway. I didn’t want to be. I was on a whole other planet for the year following her death and I don’t remember most of what happened during that time because quite frankly, I wasn’t all there. But that’s a story for another time.
Born To Die – The Paradise Edition was the only thing I listened to as I made those walks to the cemetery, feeling whimsical and full of wanderlust despite the fact I was dying from the inside out. I was broken and I was sad. I was the saddest girl in the world. But it was beautiful, and death was beautiful even though it was ironically killing me because I couldn’t figure out how to live in a world where she didn’t exist anymore. Yet I felt like I was coming to understand it, and death and I were becoming one. It was becoming my comfort because from that day forward it was the only thing I knew how to understand. It defined my life.
I’d reach the cemetery and sit in front of her grave for hours, still with my headphones in – still with our favourite music playing. I’d like to think we were listening to it together. I’d sing to her and tell her about what the hell was going on inside my brain because I never spoke about it to anyone else, I’d tell her how I was falling apart and that I didn’t know what to do because I needed her and I couldn’t do this without her, I didn’t want to. I’d tell her stupid, funny things in the hopes that she’d be laughing about it somewhere. I’d press my palms into the dirt in an attempt to try and feel something, though I never did.
I never felt like she was there, I’d never believed she was ever since the moment they buried her. That just wasn’t it for me. But I went there anyway because I had nowhere else to go. I didn’t know where to go in order to be with her and so I’d sit in front of her marble stone grave instead, staring at her face. The picture they used was one I’d taken, it was actually a selfie that we’d taken together, but they’d cropped me out of it (obviously). She looked beautiful in that photo.
The cemetery was a big one, and it had a winding pathway that circled all the way around it. When I couldn’t sit for any longer because quite frankly I was restless and had the ongoing need to constantly run away, I’d step onto the pathway and walk along it instead. I remember there were memorial benches dotted along the sides, engraved with the names of the people they were dedicated to, and I’d sit there for the following few hours instead. Thinking to myself and doing the exact same thing I’d been doing some metres away in front of my sister’s grave. I took some pictures of the sky there once and it had strange shapes in it that weren’t Earth-side, like there was something beyond the lens. They’re lost in a folder somewhere now but I’m sure I’ll find them again one day.
I have fond memories of being there now, crazily enough. I felt comfortable there, like I belonged. Is that weird? I was no longer surrounded by the living, yet it made me feel like I was. I felt like they understood me anyway. Looking at the names and dates of people who were no longer on the Earth anymore, and I could never help but wonder where they went.
I don’t go there anymore. I haven’t been back since that first year except for maybe once on a birthday. I can’t. Like I said, I don’t feel like she’s there and it does nothing for me. I was 15 at the time and I’m 21 now, and I think reliving those experiences at this age would simply ruin the memories for me, because I’m scared I won’t feel the same. It would take away the only comfort I had from those times, the only warm thing I had to remember.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to romanticise death because it’s fucking devastating and it killed me (no pun intended). It still does. But it was equally beautiful at the same time, and it changed me in ways I never would have had I never had the experience and been through it. I wouldn’t be the person I am now without going through what I did.
So I get it, and it hurts but it’s beautiful and bittersweet and I enjoy walking through the cemeteries (I wish there was a nicer word for them than that) and looking at the names and the dates and seeing who’s been there the longest. Maybe that sounds a bit morbid, but I personally find it peaceful. Especially when the sun’s shining down on everyone like it has been lately, and it feels like suddenly there’s life again in a place dedicated to those with none.
I didn’t know what to title this post, so I called it 1998 because that’s the year we were both born. It also reminds me of the song 1996 by Ella Henderson, which makes me a little emotional and reminds me of things.
“I met my best friend by the age of 3 and she grew up watching episodes of Lizzie McGuire with me, on TV. We used to share our secrets didn’t care about what we would say even when it got embarrassing, I’d let you in. And now I miss the times when we’d dress up and we’d put on a magic show, and I’d boss you around but you never frowned, never wanted to go home.
And who knows when we’re old and grey who we’re gonna grow up to be?
But every day I love you more.
You did it all for me.”
All my love,