“Remember you will die.” Seems like such a morbid statement, but like the art the saying inspired, I have always felt Memento Mori to be a call-to-action. Live while you can. You are not invincible. Death comes for us all.
The last, sheesh, year it seems has been one big screeching reminder of impermanence. It has been a year since our beloved family member, Mugsy, crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I mourned him harder than I knew a human could mourn an animal and felt the loss of such an innocent, pure love deep in my soul.
And that was just the beginning.
A year has gone by now and everywhere I look I see death, loss, mourning, pain, and grief. Once again, I’m unable to give details because privacy is very important to me and I give the same respect to my loved ones. If they want their business on the internet, I trust them to put it there themselves. (Shameless plug for my BFFFFFF Mat’s podcast, Before I Go, a love letter to his children as he approaches the end of his life.) Suffice it to say I have been to many funerals and anticipate going to a few more in the near future.
But I trust that enough of us have experienced loss to understand that it’s not the kind of thing one wishes to experience rapid-fire. I can’t even say I’m getting numb to it the way we do when someone punches us repeatedly in a nerve. Instead, it feels like death is escalating, culminating in hours spent wondering what the hell I’m doing with my one life.
I don’t believe in an afterlife. I don’t believe we all get to meet again some day on a cloud in the sky where everyone is sipping sweet tea and eating finger sandwiches. When we die, as far as I can be comfortable expressing with any certainty, we simply cease to exist. There is no “Get out of jail free” card for life. You don’t get a second try once the ol’ meat suit gives up the ghost.
That’s a very uncomfortable thought to a lot of people. We have countless religions based on the premise of ignoring the finality of death. That’s why Memento Mori has always been such a spiritual art style to me: Remember, I will die.
Perhaps sooner than later. Who knows?
It’s with this understanding that I choose to live every day in a way that I can look back and say “Yes, this was a day well spent.” I don’t shy away from conflict, not because I like to fight, but because I don’t want to spend one minute more than I have to in a state of conflict. I want to resolve whatever issue is hindering my ability to live a life of peace and happiness, sharing as much of the love in my heart as I can with as many people and animals as I can.
I don’t know how to describe myself in bios. People say that I’m strong, that I’m smart, that I’m honest, that I’m loved. And all those things are important, truly. But when I am breathing my last, I want to know that I was the best Nicole Ford Thomas I could have ever been, that I followed my heart and had courage to do the hard thing that I knew was the right thing. I need to be true to myself and hope that others will understand my heart, my motivations.
And my motivation is love. Always. Because it’s the only thing that lives on after we’re gone.