Everybody Knows Somebody Who Died

I often think about Jörg – a German stage director I met in 1997. A friend of mine worked closely with him for some years and we met here and there around Europe – in Copenhagen, London and Germany. In 2000 he committed suicide in a hotel room in Portugal, a big schock for all of his friends. Why kill himself? He seemed well established in life and his theatre was finally having success. I didn’t get it. I guess I really didn’t know him that well.

IMG_2697 Kopie
(Jörg trying on a whig I bought for a party in 1988)

The reason I often think about Jörg is that I keep thinking about all the things he has missed out on since 2000, good or bad. And how happy I am that I’m not the one who’s dead.

He never got to know WordPress, Facebook, HDTV, Blu-ray, Netflix, The XX, Lana del Rey, True Detective, Orange Is The New Black, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, Cathi Unsworth’s fabulous books, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Amy Winehouse, Ryan Gosling’s introverted acting in Drive and The Place Beyond The Pines, iPhones, WiFi, Spotify, the delicious mince and cheese pie at my favorite café. He didn’t share the past 15 years with friends and family, followed nephews/nieces/friends’ children grow up. He never got to drive a Mini Cooper in the new design and he wouldn’t know what The Hunger Games is. I could go on forever.

Life is so full of … life.

My last 15 years have been filled with ups and downs, with good and bad experiences, fun, tears, friendships developing, with growing older, kisses, feelings, compassion, with music, books and films that went under my skin. Not always easy times but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything in the world. Gosh, I am so happy to be on this planet, I can’t express how grateful I am for having this (my) life…

When I was a depressed teenager, I thought a lot about dying (or disappearing). I wrote narcissistic existential poems and wallowed in sadness and pain, walked around with my head down for days and weeks and months. In a way I can understand why someone would want to take his own life, that it can feel like it’s the only option, but at the same time I cannot.

Everybody knows somebody who died. Mums and Dads, grandparents, friends and colleagues, musicians and filmstars, pets. I know that Death is part of Life, that our time is limited, but I don’t think I will ever understand Death completely, that when you’re dead you’re gone forever. When I sensed the weight of my dead mother in the coffin last year, for a short moment it became “real” and I realized that I would never hear her voice again. But still, Death is beyond my comprehension.

I was never angry with Jörg for what he did, I was not close enough to him to be. I have always thought that everyone is free to decide for himself. Selfish or not. But you can crush other people by making such choices. I didn’t see it like that earlier.

I think Jörg made a huge mistake by killing himself. He missed out on so much in life.

If this was a jukebox from beyond, my mother would have picked Andrea Bocelli/Sarah Brightman: Time To Say Goodbye. Sorry mum, I can’t go down that line, so Jörg, this one goes out to you, wherever you are…

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