When I was a child, despite my often turbulent life and struggles, I must say I lived a carefree life. So you wonder why my post this week is quite dark? Well, the first mention of death struck me. Well death wasn’t explained to me, but the signs were there.
In my previous post, I mentioned how we used to go to auntie Gloria (our adoptive auntie from Argentina). She lived opposite the school and we went to her house so often. I remembered fully that her only child, Maurice, passed away very young probably from cancer or another illness. When we used to buy sweets, she used to buy an extra pack and once we returned to her house, she went to Maurice’s old room. His old room became a sort of memorial. So, she used to leave the pack of sweet on his desk. She said that it was for him. I thought that behavior was odd, as we knew he was dead. But somehow, this was her way to keep his memory alive. I was so transfixed with death therefore I asked my mum during dinner, what happens to our body when we die. She explained quite graphically that once we die, we are buried and insects and worms eat us. I instantly became petrified of death. The discussion put me off my dinner completely. I began to have nightmares. Then I had this crazy idea of confronting my fears.
One thing that would always link me with my dad is we never do things by half. When I like things, I would over like it. Well, the pattern was similar as when I didn’t like something I would hate it, and when I was curious, I was just transfixed. Obviously, each time, the phase would die down eventually. But, just like my dad, I would go all the way. When I started hearing of famous people death, I would read extensively articles about it and when I hear a relative passing away, I would ask so much details. That was my first step of confronting my fear of death. Confronting my fear, became a sort of obsession. Few years later, I would start visiting cemeteries around my area. I have no idea why I did that, especially visiting graves of people I didn’t even know. Eventually, I wasn’t afraid of death anymore, but curious about the afterlife. In other words, my curiosity lead me to cemeteries. I would sit sometimes on the benches and see people coming and going. What I will state next seems weird, but somehow I enjoyed the tranquility cemeteries offered. Despite being located right next to a busy street, the silence in cemeteries was deafening.
Today, the same cemeteries I visited when I was younger, I would now go and visit friends or people I met during my life in Geneva.
To my delight, and to distract me from death, a new show made its way to television in the early 90s. A show that would become so huge; Beverly Hills 90210. I was a fan immediately despite being only 8 at the time. I also spotted the very handsome Dylan and quickly identified myself with him as he was at first an outcast before being part of the group of friends. To quickly summarise Beverly Hills 90210, it was a show at first based on the transition from Minnesota to Beverly Hills by twins Brandon and Brenda. Despite the first season being centered around Brendon and Brenda, it was the other characters such as Kelly especially which catapulted the show to worldwide attention. Other characters important to the series were: David, Donna, Steve, Andreia and of course the handsome Dylan. All of the characters mentioned, were starting to gel and form a strong friendship. However, David at the beginning wasn’t really part of the group of friends but always tried to be part of it. Him and Scott, his longest friend, were outcast looking in. As David started to date Donna, Scott was simply left out. I remember feeling sorry for Scott, because at the time I was left out myself and felt quite lonely, just like him. Very similar to Scott, I would look from afar to people enjoying themselves wishing I was part of it. In other words, I knew and could see what Scott was feeling.
As I forgot all about death for a while, thanks to this show, I became to realise the show was dealing with many issues faced by young people. Back then, I didn’t quite understand the issues as I would many decades later. One episode brought back the topic of death. This episode marked me so deeply and in a way moved me too. The episode, rightfully entitled ‘The next 50 years’ began with Scott as ever looking from afar at the group of friends and perhaps realizing that him and David were no longer close. Scott’s mum, realizing it too, implored David to bring the group of friends to Scott’s house as it was Scott’s birthday. Reluctantly, David agreed. At Scott’s house, the group of friends became bored quite quickly of the childish theme birthday party and wanted to leave, not before David saved the party. Once the group of friends started to leave, Scott, finally accepted that him and David have become distant. He even allowed David to leave. But David stayed and to his horror, he witnessed Scott accidentally shooting himself while playing with a gun he found on his father’s desk. Scott was meant to get a lighter, as requested by his father to lit the candles. David was deeply affected to the passing of his friend and became withdrawn. Everyone tried to comfort him, but he bottled everything up. The tipping point came when Brandon, who was working for the school’s paper, wanted to ask David more details about Scott’s life for an article to commemorate Scott. David lashed out at Brandon at first, but then, David said something quite powerful regarding life and death; ‘it is not how you remember someone when they are gone, but it is how you treat them while they are still here’. That episode marked me to this day and gave me a new perspective on death. Despite finding death scary, we should embrace life to the fullest and appreciate people in our lives while they are still alive; once they are gone, they are gone but we should still cherish the memories. At the time of writing this, my favourite actor in the show, Dylan (Luke Perry) sadly passed away in 2019.
Writing this today, I realise that I have lost so many people along the way, people I met during my childhood in Portugal & Switzerland as well as in London where I am currently living. I embrace life much more as tomorrow is never guaranteed. I try my best to appreciate people around me today. To keep the memories alive, I visit the graves of my friends, relatives or key people who made an impact in my life especially in Switzerland. Despite the awful experiences I faced up to that point, I finally accepted Switzerland as my home. I realised I wasn’t returning to Portugal.
Today, I appreciate everything I experienced in Switzerland; the good, the bad and the damn ugly. Switzerland will always play an important part of me, wherever in the world I am. Switzerland is part of my identity and will always be part of me, even though I no longer live there. In later post, I will reveal all about a man who has played a huge part in my life during a trouble time during my adolescence and whom I visit his grave each time I go back to Switzerland.
This post is dedicated to all the people I have met in my life and who sadly have passed away, especially the people who played a huge part in my life. Last but not least, this post is dedicated to all those people I cherish and always will until I pass away myself.