COVID-19 — fini les bises à la pelle !


”COVID-19 — fini les bises à la pelle !”, oil on canvas, 60 x 50 cm., 2020, is a self-portrait of myself hesitating to kiss my own death skull, and is surrounded by a ring of blue roses.

The blue roses symbolize the unattainable; here, an unfulfilled love-moment that is even too complicated to be described in words because our natural habit of performing the delicious bises à la pelle is abruptly stopped by the cold mental forewarning that “some doors should never be opened”. There is nothing to say, save perhaps “Oh, I almost forgot.” 

This is, indeed, a challenging conceptual and technical study and essay. The image of a person kissing a death skull is an age-old meme (if not a cliché). Here the twist is to play on the concept of The Picture of Dorian Gray, whereby the death skull is the mirrored image of my true Self — i.e. that part of me that always remains constant, regardless of the « accoutrements » of fashion, disposition, or aging. In the Age of COVID-19 a simple kiss on the cheek can become the shovel that digs our own grave… Indeed we must all face our own Death, with eyes open or shut. And yet Death finds meaning only against the background of Life, though measured in mere years or breaths. Just as Light has no significance without shadow or Darkness, we cannot live Life fully being afraid of Death. On ne peut pas vivre en ayant peur de mourir …

In the immortal words of John Donne:

Death, be not proud

BY JOHN DONNE

Death, be not proud,

though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful,

for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally

And death shall be no more;

Death, thou shalt die.

 

COVID-19 selfie

Survivors’ Guilt — a fictional letter to us all.

Surviving others is usually a difficult life experience for most of us here on Earth. Both I and many that I know have experienced the loss of those who have meant much to us at some point in our lives. Some of the pain that we experience can possibly be in the form of “Survivors’ Guilt”. The reasoning behind this guilt can vary, as can the intensity and longevity of the “guilt”.

After following many persons to their graves we can over time risk feeling an exhaustion with being there for our beloved friends in their final periods. I have written a fictional letter to all who might find themselves in such a situation:

Dear Friend,

Even though we know that Death is an inevitable and intrinsic part of Existence, loss still hurts, still confuses emotionally, and still requires acceptance and healing. You have been through these painful losses many times … as have I. In addition, you like all of us, are constantly monitoring your own health and judging the actual proximity of the Whispers of Death beyond your own doorstep. Thus the death of those close to us can feel like an omen to ourselves because much of our own conscious and subconscious focus is often upon our own actual and our feared or imagined health issues, and thoughts of our own eventual Death. Just as I have had to learn how to walk again after each of my six foot operations, we must all also redefine our own lives in the shadows of personal loss. You are mentally strong and physically resilient, despite how you might feel in moments, or for short periods. And therefore persons who are going through terminal life experiences desire to have you in their lives during that time of transitioning. You are indeed fortunate and should feel proud that you are so entrusted. Many persons prefer to sneak away … alone, feeling sorry about their lives. But you have chosen your friends well, and they have wisely chosen you because of your empathetic nature and your ability to do and say the right things at the right times—even right before and at the end. Persons who are dying do not wish to burden others but it often takes courage and strength to be there with them … because loss hurts, and the survivors are also experiencing the death of part of their own definition because none of us is complete unto ourselves — not even in our definition and experience of Self.

Your friends need your simple presence, perhaps some reminiscing about fun and crazy previous experiences, some laughs, some philosophizing and summing up of the Journey etc. Actually, just the things that happen at Wakes, when it is too late for that person to enjoy the party on his/her behalf. So be yourself. If you need to cry together with your friends to help cleanse the energies then do so. Those of us who are dying just want to say “goodbye” in the ways that we said “hello” during our lives: with a myriad of life-confirming expressions that let us affirm that we have been real, and that we have loved and been loved.

You are truly blessed and honored to be invited to share in what is surely one of the two most important experiences in Life (after Birth).

We are all blessed, and there is no guilt needed in living or in dying.

We are all received with Love and Healing in the Afterlife / Life between Lives.

xoxo