death

Daily, Writings

See and make seen


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I didn’t know you for long.
A day after your death I backtracked how long we actually had known each other for.
I counted two months, an insight which lead to instant disappointment because in this world we put the length of any relationship on a piedestal.

I pushed that annoying inkling of disappointment away because in my world I treasure the impact of a relationship, how we affected each other during our time together. I now know that two months can be as wholly as 5 years.

We were becoming friends but more than that too because you were the first person I dared to think of as a possible mentor.
Your manners toward others inspired me. You made everyone feel seen at the same time as you jokingly teased them about a minor detail in their own manners.

I witnessed how you brought those manners to the surface and I saw in the persons face that no one, except himself, had ever noticed it, which in return left him smiling.

You saw and made seen, in the most loving, joyful of ways.

As autumn came marching in and the first rain fell heavily, we stood waiting to go out for lunch. I said something in the likes of “Into the darkness we go…” you looked at me with a half-smile and a shrug, saying “I know many people don’t like this weather but I’ve always seen it as something beautiful because it’s as if the world becomes clean.”

I never told you how much I appreciated you, I never had the chance to ask you if you could be my mentor, even after I would’ve quit. Because we thought we had time, you said it constantly “focus on this now, we’ll dive into that later” but Gustaf, you know, later never came.
Thank you for teaching me, in the most horrid of ways, never to hold back on declarations of love.

Rain was pouring down when I walked home from the subway tonight. Out of nowhere I was struck by your words, as if the rain itself whispered in your voice “The world gets clean”.

So from here on now my friend, I promise that I’ll forever keep that glittery view of the world in mind whenever it cleans, I mean rains.

stories, Writings

The Stained Man – a short story


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It’s a solemn morning for the man who is busy pouring his coffee down the drain.
He is mad, for all he can see is the stain, the stain on his white shirt which, in his mind, represents his life.
He mutters to himself as he watches the rain trickle down the window pane; “I’m nothing but a stain on a white shirt. A blob that no one likes, something that sticks out and can’t be left unnoticed. A freak in a heap of normalities, stiletto heals and formalities.”
He makes no attempt to wash it off, instead he unbuttons the shirt, letting his belly hang out over his suit-pants and tosses it on the floor. The phone rings and reveals the name of the person calling, “Samantha Miller”.
“Not today Samantha. Not today,” he whispers as he puts his phone into sleep-mode.
What Samantha, his boss of 15 years, doesn’t know is that Bob Litter has remained by his sink, overlooking the apartments in front of him, for 2 hours. Ever since he mindlessly stained himself with coffee he has been standing there, contemplating, letting his workshift start without him for the first time in, well, 15 years.

“Bob the Blob”
“Hey Bob, did you litter yourself?!”
“Bobby the Flobby!”
“Bob the Sob”
“Litter is Bitter!”
He acts it out, imitates the voices of the past and the now, all the disgraceful nicknames that have poured over him throughout his life, in school, at work, at camp. Samantha says they are uttered from his co-workers with love and sarcasm, that they would never have done it if there were an ounce of seriousness to them. He finds that hard to believe.
He is fat, he is bald and he has dark circles around his eyes, hanging like bags of the sickly skin which a nearly dead elderly person acquires.
“They are right. Somehow they’ve made me believe it. Turned me into it. Turned me into the stain I never knew I was. I will die anyway, might as well get on with it. When death seems more fun than life, it has to be the right choice, right?”
No one will answer him, for he has no confidants, he has no wife, no husband, no children, no friends, no living family, except from a cousin he’s never met, he is alone. In retrospect I can see how it happened, that he involuntarily chose loneliness, he let others get to him and beat him down inch by inch. He lost his fighting-spirit when his long-sought-after ex had a miscarriage and she left him. It was during the time when he still had hair, was less fat and had just landed his job as a banking official, when life was fun.

He picks up the white shirt with a coffee-stain on it and puts it on again.
“I should die as the stain I am,” he says a he laughs and sobs, laughs and sobs in a spectrum of indecisive emotions.
His index finger reaches around the trigger of the gun that has been lying in front of him since he went to get it just after the stain arose. He is disturbed by the flashing light from his phone, it reads “Samantha Miller”. He takes the gun and shoots the phone, two shots, glass flying, metal cracking, one shot, Bob is dead, blood flying, no one is crying.

It actually pains me, as death, to see this. What a lonesome soul, what a beautiful mind that so few got to get to know. What I know though that Bob didn’t know, is that Samantha Miller called him, not to bark at him for being late but for getting the door code to his housing estate.
For outside his whole team of banking officials awaited him to leave for work. How wonderful they looked in their suits, party-hats and colorful helium-balloons. Today was Bob’s 64th birthday. Wait, something is happening. The police has knocked down Bob’s door, Samantha Miller has called them in sheer concern for the man who has never been late for work.

The police finds the man on the floor in his kitchen, seemingly floating on a stain of blood.

– J

Photos, Writings

The Nesting Sorrow


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There is grief circling mind, like a ring of wildfire, it surrounds every thought. Not letting anything in, nor out. I push the memories back because they remind me, and reminciscing leads to tears and crying hurts. I woke up with a blistering headache, piercing through my head as if it was a spear of glowing lead, an evil reminder of the night before.

The 16th of May when we said goodbye to our family-member and my best mate, an era ended. We got almost 16 years together, Snaps and I, my stubborn little Dachshund.

He left us in peace with the whole family united, sitting around him in the living-room. A room for the living, now a room for the dead. He is now gone, and I am left bewildered because at the same time as I’ve always known I would out-live him, I thought he would live forever, here with me.

I don’t know life without him. He is in my first memories, or rather, he is my first memories. I was six years old when we received him and the month leading up to his arrival was, and still is, the longest month in my life, and that longing is my first memory. I had never before felt so strongly for something and then he came and he came in like a whirlwind; barking so much the neighbours sent threat-letters about calling the police if we didn’t make him shut up, talking whenever we cuddled, running away into the forest barking after some rabbit only to wake up the whole neighbourhood, running away only to stand outside the house of a bitch – crying for her attention. 

I still feel his body in my arms, I know every part as if it were my own, his every sound and what it meant, I always said he was my heart outside my body and now it’s been chopped off. It hurts.

I am missing you pal. May you forever be as vivid and alive as you were, and as you are in my mind right now.

adventures, Photos

Sweltering heat, Warmer humans


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Last Sunday we got on the plane from Accra to Tamale Airport. I got the strange sensation of that Camilla and I were wildlings and we were about to conquer the north, behind the wall. Because it is a wall,  it seperates  the “rich and the rich poverty” of Accra from extreme poverty in the northern parts of Ghana.

We embarked on  a plane with AWA (Africa World Airlines), who’s tagline is:

“Touching Africa. Touching the World!!” Exactly like that, and I find those two!! exclamation marks to be hilarious.

We were lucky enough to get a cab with air condition, that made the one and a  half hour ride a pure bliss. My first impression of the north was all the police stops, men in uniforms with guns, the bargaining over toll and the young ladies running up to cars, attempting to sell their groceries. We bought three eggs.

My tummy was filled with butterflies, and when Camilla said: “Behind this hill is Karimenga!” they all flew out – finally we had arrived.

We arrived just before the sun set and when the cab drove into the village we were greeted by most of the villagers. It warmed my heart to see Camilla freakishly happy and to see how happy they were to see her. Her second family.

I was introduced to everyone, met the baba of the village, met Joshua (Cam’s friend and colleague) whom I have heard so much about, met the mama of our compound and was invited in to the room where we would sleep, in the building that Cam and the other’s have built.

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I was baffled. Firstly because, never ever have I lived in that environment,  secondly  I could not grasp how Cam has spent over a year in the village in total. That all made sense the day after the sweatiest night of my life (sleeping under a tin roof in 43 degrees C is not to be recommended) and I saw her walking elegantly through the village as naturally as if it was her home, talking in FraFra with everyone she saw.

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Joshua reading in Swedish from the snus. 

Needless to say, even though it is poor, the people are rich. I got the opportunity to jump into relationships that Cam has built with everyone under several years, and I got to listen to conversations and thoughts that I never would have been getting to partake in if it was not for Camilla and her ability to connect with whomever, whenever. They discussed death, love, conflicts, relationships, all those universal human factors that make us all able to converse and connect.

That first night they celebrated the baptising of a child, hence they played loud music and danced, unfortunately it was abruptly cut off because a woman in her forties died that same night. Death and life, all at once. Death gets very close there, they dig the graves themselves and bury the bodies in the village.

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Camilla in her room, after dinner and before bedtime. 

Coming to Karimenga was a first-hand experience of the circle of life, in a manner that I’ve never had the privilege to see before. The community is built on relationships, trust, hard work, helping hands, love and a team-work out of this world. I am in awe by how hard they work, out in the fields in 45 degrees, and not one complaint.

Those were my first impressions, but not even all of them, and tomorrow I’ll write the continuation.

 

Writings

Bargaining With Life


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A lot is happening at the same time. We are working hard with The Free Projects , the event is on Saturday and we are smashing out videos, posters, invitations and what not. I love it. It’s what I’ve dreamt of for a long time, working together with close friends with almost complete creative freedom.

At the same time my family is going through something big, right at this moment.

Then when I look to my left I see Snaps laying in the sun on the big carpet in the hall. Letting his little body get warmed up by the long sought after beams. His hind-legs are not what they once have been and we believe he suffers from backpain. He’s my best friend on four legs, I have my first memories with him, and how can I possibly make a decision on   taking away the being which has played the other part of this fifteen year old love-saga?

I took him out on a walk to see how he would deal with it. He started running, surprisingly enough, but at the same time it’s not a surprise at all because he was born a trooper, he never gives up. He will never willingly surrender to death. We met two caretakers who were pushing two old  men in wheelchairs. The birds were chirping, the snow is melting and I looked at the man with his head bent back against the wheel-chair, with a purple-blue ring around his left eye, skinny as a bird, and I couldn’t help but think that this would be the last time the sun caressed his face.

I’m experiencing life and death, good and bad, sun and darkness, all at the same time and it’s never been this obvious before that there has to be balance between the two antipoles, or none of it would exist.

Writings

I Should Have Gone Yesterday


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My brother is sitting to my left and my sister to my right. We’re in the car on our way to Östersund and it is the Summer of 2015. Our father is driving and mom is in the passengers seat. It’s like the good old days during summer when we all went on family-trips together to our paternal grandpa and grandma. We always thought the 600K journey was worth it because we knew how much we would enjoy being there. We knew we would get to swim in the ice-cold water by their pier, listen to grandpa’s mesmerizing storytelling, eat grandmas food, sleep in the basement with timber beams over her heads, read Kalle Anka till’ we fell asleep and have grandma and grandpa kiss us goodnight. 
This time it’s different. The overall mood in the car is gloomy. It’s as if we are followed by a black cloud, hovering, only above our car. See, this time it’s time for us to kiss grandma goodnight. Forever. 
I’m sitting quietly hoping we will make it in time. When death is creeping up on someone it can strike faster than expected.
I don’t have to keep my hopes up for very long because after ten minutes on the road, my fathers’ phone rings.
He picks up and I hear it’s my uncle Mats, who is with grandma. Next thing I know my father stops the car, leans over the steering wheel and repeats loudly to himself “I should have gone yesterday, I should have gone yesterday, I should have gone yesterday”. Meanwhile he utters those words his body is shaking. 
 It’s not so much my grandmother’s death that evokes feelings in me the most, because she’s been sick for a long time, but it’s the tears that come streaming down from my father’s face. My brilliant, wise, happy father, now grief-struck to his bones.
As on a queue all family members hands reach for dad. I look to my right only to see silent tears run down my sisters face and I know she feels what I feel. So I hug her, to comfort each other in our father’s pain. 
We are all hit by the realization of that this is the end of an era. Grandpa will never tell us his stories again and grandma will never share her cooking with us. And so we sit in silence and remember what was and never will be again.

 

Writings

I Have The Power Over Your Life


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It’s a late Thursday-night. My mother and I are talking in the kitchen. Earlier this day our Dachshund, Snaps, with 15 years in his back, took a dump whilst he was eating. He also pees inside the house during night. When we go out on “walks” (50-100m long) he sniffs at one spot for such a long time that when he finally looks up again he is utterly confused about where he is, where I am, which direction he should be walking in, and what he was doing there in the first place.

When he wants to get into the house from the garden he sometimes whines with his head directed, not towards the door as one might think, but towards the wall next to the door.

All of these things happen with a cute looking expression on his face, and when he finally finds me again on our walks he comes running like a maniac, tail wagging, towards me.

Our discussion centered around how long he has left, but the undercurrent of our discussion was really: When is it humane/animane to end a life?

Now? Before his body starts turning on him for real and when he’s still happy-flappy without being in pain? Or, let his body do the job and take him down when it’s his time?

I have no answer.

Who am I to rule over someone’s life? Who am I to take him away from his life when his fire is still burning? Or is it burning?

15 years of friendship and love.

I have reached one conclusion in this and that is: The day when he shows no will to do anything – play, eat, walk or when he simply stops being curious, then it is time.

As of per usual when we talk about him, Snaps enters the room during our discussion, stretches, wags and looks at me. Okey, my friend, not now. But please be as clear when it actually is time, when you are ready to go.