I am in the middle of a devising process for my culminating project as a MA candidate. The theme of the performance piece is a personal exploration of what death means to us as individuals and as communal creatures. As part of the process, I have been asking my actors to bring in personal monologues in response to a variety of prompts. This is my own response to the prompt, "What is death?"
When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m thirsty, I drink. When I’m tired, I sleep. But there are desires I can’t fulfill with anything around me, and sometimes I feel like I’m pressing myself into a mold that is constantly shifting its shape, confounding me without satisfying me.
Death is, most definitely, separation. The hardest thing about losing someone is that in a few weeks, or months, or a year, you’ll find yourself with something to tell them, and no way to say it. That absence is unnatural. Death is the one thing that unites us all, and yet we all know in our bones that death isn’t right.
But I think that death is also connection. Those unsatisfied desires that I feel in my spirit lead me to the presence of God, and when I die—when those around me die—I think the veil of this world is either removed, and we come face to face with him, or we choose not to be with him, and that’s that. Pretty simple.
Death is strange. It presses all around us, and we want to ignore it. And it isn’t just people—it’s everything. It’s change, and it’s place. There’s something kind of holy about place, don’t you think? The way a place holds an experience, and gently preserves it. The loss you feel when a place is gone. The way you can touch and breathe and hold a place, and bear it in your heart, long after you can’t go there anymore.
Death is loss, and the inability to do anything about it. Death is being patient, and waiting to see more than just a pinpoint of reality.
~ He Held Radical Light, Christian Wiman
~ An American Childhood, Annie Dillard