A Life of Changes

Mirta Osorio

editor Julia Pascal

Photo ©IngridGuyon

In Colombia  
In my country
Latin death comes often 
With violence.
In England nobody talks of such things.
In ancient Egypt
Everyone is prepared for
The University of Death

Don’t fear death
Preparation is all.
I am a climate activist
I will be buried not so deep
To quicken
My return to the soil.

I talk about this with my daughters.

Nobody knows who will go first.

In my country, in 1967
It was not normal for a 19 year old to go abroad
On her own.
America?
No, said my father.
If she goes, she will never come back.

I did not go to America.
Germany. An au pair.
Treated well, I am happy.
A voice inside me.
Move on.
Voices outside me
Why do you  always want to leave when you have everything?
Look at that advert in an old newspaper on the post office floor
An au pair in London?
Move on.

The Englishwoman treats me like a servant.
I don’t like how she speaks to me.
Move on.
She throws me out for daring to want independence.
I am a cleaner.
I am a secretary.
A boss does not pay my last week’s wages.
Move on. 

Canada!
Marry a man who is my friend.
Move on.
Again London.
Working for the School of Economics.
My own life. Beautiful!
What is this? Pregnant.
Thirty three -time to have a child.
A daughter.
And then another.
And then the worst of times
Thatcher Years
Move on.
Back to Colombia.
The girls meet their grandparents.
Father dies.
It doesn’t affect me.
In my country death comes so often.
Preparation is all.

Move on.
London 2012.
The Olympics.
Such a wonderful summer.
Three years later mother dies.
The next one to go will be me.
Preparation is all.

We are suddenly pensioners.
My husband and I.
I go to an online Dying and Living Workshop.
Learn to die
Learn to live
Learn to move on.

Lockdown
My husband falls.
Kidney Disease
Alzheimer’s
In the hospital, they allow us lockdown visits.
Everyone is dying now.

We are not religious people but we have beliefs of a superior being.
When he goes, we sing the songs he wanted.
We play his music
We play the Colombian national anthem.
We dance.
We decorate his cardboard coffin.
His granddaughter paints beauty on it.
At his cremation we witness the charging.

It seems that young people today do not fear death.

I admire that.
You might ask why do you want to leave when you have everything?
Move on.

Mirta Osorio

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