Death is a hugger

When I was a boy my parents used to send me for few weeks in the summer to my grandparents in the countryside. They lived in a fairly small rural house with a huge country yard, lots of farm animals and vines.

One day next to the prune tree I saw my grandma painting a big metal fence. She was short statured woman, with unpretentious curly hair and childly playful eyes, always ready to crack a joke or to laugh at one, even if it wasn’t very funny to a grown-up. The fence she was painting was very odd — it looked like a sheep fence or like the baby-fences sometimes parents put around their children to take care of the house chores or steal a toilet retreat for minute or two. The fence was black, metal, rectangular frame with 4:3 ratio and decorated with some very detailed and beautiful flower ornaments.

As every child would do - I barely waited the paint to dry out. On the first sign it was climbable I nosedived into exploring the million ways I could bruise my elbows and knees falling off and climbing back again. My grandmother saw me and for the sweet and pampering woman she was, I noticed she wasn’t sharing my adventurous enthusiasm at all! She walked by and with tender but outright voice asked me not to play anymore there - especially not inside the frame. I was puzzled but complied — I loved my granny and aldo she was sweet and kind woman by heart, the rural live in Bulgaria made her the sweet and kind sort of person you wouldn’t want to ask you anything twice.

Later that day she started a very odd conversation that didn’t make sense to me even a bit. She told me:

“One day, me and your grandpa will hide... You won’t be able to see us, but we’ll be loving you very much...”.

Then she paused... She saw me grappling with that statement… What was she talking about..? Why would they hide..? For how long and how come all of a sudden the grown-up’s would want to play childs games..? Many questions started nagging my mind but among everything else the strong feeling of fear creeped into my heart. I feared this would happen immediately — before my parents came to take me and I would stay alone in the house.

For children “now” is the only time available on the clock!

I cried and demanded for reassurance they wouldn’t do that! For a moment she slipped into controlled panic as every grown-up would do, becoming aware they’ve said the wrong thing in a wrong way, nevermind their noble intention of gently planting the seed of a rough truth into a fragile mind. She assured me I shouldn’t be worried at all — “It won’t be happening anytime soon” — she said. She hugged me and baked me my favorite dish —” Purlenka” — thin white-flour bread, stuffed with melted cow cheese inside and some seasoning that only grandma had in her kitchen.

I was seventeen when my granny passed. Just becoming a men, I had fallen in love for the first time and I was dealing with the mundane struggles most teenagers deal at that age. I had forgotten for our odd conversation long time ago. The funeral tradition in my country is that everyone close to the deceased has to go through the village, walking slowly on a very mournful orchestra music. This way everyone in the village had the chance to part in good will with their countrymen and friend. I remembered that as a kid I witnessed many times that long trail of slowly pacing people, walking up the hill in silence, but didn’t putted much thought into it — it was just another strange part of the grown-up’s world. Now I was one of those people sending my granny to her last stroll up the hill.

When we got to the cemetery we entered the parcel where she was supposed to be laid and there it was… Black, metal, rectangular frame with 4:3 ratio, decorated with some very detailed and beautiful flowers. This fence was surrounding my grandmothers grave guarding it from stray dogs and animals that could insult the tomb in their own fight for survival (people sometimes leave food on the graves — like а post mortem diner for the deceased). Memories flooded my mind and I finally made sense of it all. My granny has single-handedly painted the fence of her own tomb years before she found her last retreat there. She knew how life works and reconciled with it long before death knocked at her door. Was she in peace with it — I would never know, but one thing I knew for sure — Death is a hugger and she knew she was in line too. It will come to embrace her and if there could be one fear greater than that — it was the fear of Death hugging her beloved once beforehand. That’s why she wouldn’t let me play inside the fence — she couldn’t bare the thought... As that insight came — I saw confirmation in front of my eyes. Next to her grave was my grandfather’s place. This really disturbed me, but oddly enough — it didn’t disturbed him at all… My grandpa was standing next to me mourning his wife, not paying even the slightest attention to his feature final resting place. He was crying because his beloved has started the game of hiding and from now on he knew he was taking the role of a seeker.

“You won’t be able to see us, but we’ll be loving you very much…”- she said.

If only she knew how important was this awkward conversation for the little boy crying confused in her lap. I couldn’t possibly understand at the time what she was trying to tell me so gently but now it seems so very clear.

Death is a hugger you know. Sometimes it will pass us by in a hurry for a date with another soul and sometimes it will flirtatiously wink — even give us a chilly handshake… Sooner or later, however, It will embrace us and take us away from all that we love and all that we ache. Coming in terms with this simple truth is a challenge we must accept and endure for the people we love! We need to invest all our kindness and grace in every conversation we hold, because we never know how fruitful it could be after we are gone.

It is my turn to start painting my fence.

Death is hugger — you should be too
hug someone you love right now
and tell them you’ll always do
even if they can’t see you.

P.S. Dedicated to all people that have lost someone dear during this times of illness and suffering — They love you even if you can’t see them!

Holistic health coach, entrepreneur and information junkie

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Ivan Germanov

Ivan Germanov

Holistic health coach, entrepreneur and information junkie

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