Remembering Olivia, seven years later Message in Uncivilization mailing list archive
From Sat Jan 17 23:38:30 2015
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2015 23:38:23 +0100 (CET)
From: Vesna Manojlovic 
Subject: [unciv] Remembering Olivia, seven years later

Today I am thinking about death.

It was seven years ago that I was confronted with mortality, in one of the 
worst possible ways: I was told that my unborn baby was dead. At 39 weeks 
of pregnancy, my third. I did not notice anything, I was fine, and I 
thought that everything is OK. But everything was not OK, and after a day 
full of shocks, sorrow, disbelief, trauma… I gave birth to my stillborn 
child. In the week that followed I learned some of the most powerful 
lessons in my life: to trust my feelings, to allow myself to change my 
mind, and to live for the moment, because it might be my last. Also - that 
everyone will die.

In the seven years since, I have forgotten many of those lessons, and I 
keep on having to re-learn them.

I am still thinking of Olivia, but less and less often. Only on her 
birthday, or the anniversary of her death, I re-read what I wrote, I look 
at the photos of her, I listen to the songs from her funeral. And I think 
about “the final solution” — what shall we do with her ashes? Because we 
still have them. I would like to scatter them in the nearby park, where I 
go often. Her father would prefer the dune by the sea, the one we used to 
call “Olivia’s hill”, since I was picking many blackberries on that hill 
while I was carrying her. However, typically, we can not agree, and year 
after year the ashes remain “in my possession”.

Olivia’s death made me think of the arrangements I need to make for my 
own. I would prefer to dissolve into the ocean - to die floating, to be 
eaten by the sea-creatures, to be broken by the waves, salt and Sun. 
That’s most probably illegal to do deliberately, so it might will have to 
be an accident.

In the meantime, many other people that I know have died or are seriously 
ill. Violence of various kinds is killing even more distant and unfamiliar 
people, famous or less so.

And still, the real and potential loss of _people_ is touching me less 
then the uprooted *trees* in the park, cut-down forests that I hear of, 
dead bird next to the metro station… and all the other near-by or remote 
but persistent destruction of “Nature” that is caused by reckless pursuit 
of human comfort and blindness for consequences of our direct and indirect 

I have not come to terms with my own demise.

I am still searching for the meaning of life, and wondering what to do 
with the limited time that I have left. The fact that I don’t know exactly 
how much time that precisely is does not make it less true: I am diagnosed 
with the terminal disease called “limits to longevity”, just like we all 
are. How to make the best of it? For now, my approach is eclectic: 
enjoying hot spas, experiencing occasional ecstatic union, sipping tea, 
savoring other people’s wisdom, protecting my children while they grow up, 
nurturing friendships, providing food to both children & friends. My 
wishes for the future include more walks in the forests, more time with 
cats, less “social media”, deeper meditation.

I am grateful to Olivia for being the biggest tragedy of my life, 
something to measure all the other misfortunes against - when I survived 
*that*, the death of my child, I will survive everything that the life - 
and death - can throw at me! Also, how strong and resilient I actually am. 
That I have hidden powers, that only get unleashed in a crisis (oh, how I 
wish I stayed ignorant to that knowledge!)

Olivia’s death teaches me the humility of every parent ever living, and 
fearing for the life of their child; and fragility of everyone’s life, 
including my own.

Thank you all for being part of my life at this point in time.
Thank you for sharing in my pain, so that we can also share our joys.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."

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