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Hi, my name is Margaret and I'm obsessed with death.

GODDAMIT!! I'm too old and too cheerful to be a highschool goth! And I HATE black!!

But yet - in most of my stories, in my story ideas, in the books that I read, I'm constantly drawn back to the idea. The concept. What happens? It's not so much of where we go afterwards, but how does our mind react? What does our brain do in the last few moments? Do we realize it - like how we realize things in our dreams? When everything falls into place and hits us like a ton of bricks?

I have no idea why I'm like this - I have no idea why it interests me. My grandma Bridge died when I was really little, and all I can remember is being at her funeral and crying so hard that some relative took me to the back and held me in her lap while I cried. It seems like a dream now - and maybe it is. Maybe it's just my mind making sense of what happened.

When I was in elementary school, and my Grampa strand was in the hospital for surgury, mom told me that he might die, and I told her I didn't want to go to the funeral because I remembered Grandma Bridges and how horrible it was. Mom told me we would need to say goodbye.

Our cat Sunday died the day of Jr. Prom. We knew it was time. He had been sleeping in a box down stairs. It was a Saturday, and Dad had to go to a swim meet. He had said goodbye to him then, and then Mom, Erik and I said goodbye, and Sunday just stopped breathing. He knew we had all been there. We burried him in the rose garden, and that day's advent reading was Ecclesastis, to everything, there is a season...and it's true you now. We love life because it's alive and it's fragile and brief. We don't buy fake flowers, we buy real ones because of that. We know they will die - but it's the life that we celebrate.

Grampa Strand passed away, after living probably 10 years after his lung surgery. The night before he died, in the middle of the night I wrote a poem about his watch. I was in my loft, and had no paper, so I used the empty page of a comic collection to write it with a broken pencil. In the morning, dad told me he had died. We all flew to Minnesota, and so many of the cousins came. I remember the viewing and looking at his hands. Carpenters hands that built so much, and now were still. I couldn't talk, I wouldn't talk. For one of those rare moments I was completely silent, I thought I needed to be. Just for once. I sat in the back of St. Mary's church and my older cousins all sat around me and we all talked. Because that's what we do. At the cemetary in Beaver Bay, we said the our father. I stood next to cousin Craig and took his hand for it, and he squeezed it.

My junior year, Wags, our dog of 15 years died while I was at college. Erik was there for the last moments, and was able to say goodbye. To this day when I am home, I still block the door with my body as I walk in - expecting her to greet me.

Two years ago, Smokey died when I was here in Minneapolis. She had held on so long, and mom and dad, after many vet visits and last hope effots, decided that they would take her home and let her go, where she knew she was safe. But at the last minute, they thought they could do a biopsy, and that it would be okay. After they put her under, in a strange vet clinic, and did the scans, it turned out to be worse than they though, and the vet said it would be best just to let her sleep. So they didn't wake her up. I don't know if I've truely forgiven them for that - when she could have died at home, she died alone, in her sleep.

Perhaps I am obsessed because my life comes from a death. My parents had a first child, louisa, who died when she was 18 months old from a drowning accident. Mom has told me that if Louisa would have lived, they probably would have just stopped after three kids, maybe only two. But mom realized after the death that things weren't perfect, life wasn't expected, and they had more children. My name, Margaret Elizabeth Ann, was a promise my father made to my mother at Louisa's funeral. He said one day they would have another daughter, and she would be named for both her grandmothers. I am that promise.

I just finished "Passages," a book by Connie Willis dealing with Near Death Experiences and hypothisizing what happens in those 4 mintues when our brain is still alive. This week a friend of mine has had an encounter with death, one of my professors had a heart attack, I had my dream, and Octavia Butler died. I don't know what it all means, or if it even means ANYTHING, but until I get this out of my system, I'll be writing somehow about what mortality means.
 
 
 
 
 
 
We should start a club for the death-obsessed. You can be pres and I'll be number 2, and we can joke about "who does Number 2 work for?!". It sounds healthy; we could make t-shirts and everything.
Since death is just part of life (and the most mysterious and unknown part), it seems reasonable to be interested in it, just as other people are more interested in birth or youth or aging. Death is way too taboo in our culture.