Monday, 13 July 2015
It began a few years ago now. There were two signals which I took, and which I still take, to be premonitory of death. One is the sensation of little spots of rain on my face and hands, even when I'm indoors, or outside in the warm sun. Now and then, little cool needle points of rain. The other, the other signal, consists of racing shadows in the corner of my vision, a small shadow like a bird darting for cover, like a scuttling insect. I try to trap it with a stare and its gone.
I remember when my father stopped having weetabix for breakfast and developed a taste for grapefruit. Not longer after that he died. There was a funny taste in his weetabix , and even though he tried a different packet it was still there, it had been infected with a new taste that he found unpalatable. It made him switch to grapefruit, which he'd never eaten before. Suddenly he liked grapefruit and found weetabix infected with a weird taste. An odd, unaccountable change. This is how death reveals itself, in tiny insidious changes, little holes in the ordinary fabric until suddenly one day the whole thing disintegrates. The software has been corrupted with a bug. Errors and anomolies develop. Then one day the whole thing shuts down. Irrevocably.
The last time I saw my father I addressed him as "mate". We were at the train station in Shipley. We'd arrived with moments to spare, so there was no time to say goodbye on the platform. We had to say goodbye in the car - before I made a dash for it. And for some reason, when my father said "goodbye son", I replied with "goodbye mate". For a long time it irked me that I said this, for no reason, having never called him "mate", and that this inexplicable farewell was the last memory of interacting with my father. But it strikes me now that this was perhaps one of those anomalies, those glitches, like the funny taste in his weetabix.
In dreams there is often something similar. Everything seems normal but a tiny detail is wrong. Your wife is drinking coffee but a long flame rises from her hair. The newspaper on the table has your sleeping face on the cover. These details are the cracks through which death will enter, through which death is entering now. And mine will enter through raindrops and shadows.