There’s a rat-shaped hole in the Universe. Her name was Athena, and now she’s gone.

 

There’s a rat-shaped hole in the Universe. Her name was Athena, and now she’s gone.

I haven’t really done death. There was my Grandma when I was very young, but I didn’t go to the funeral because my mum and auntie argued over whether or not she should have a Christian burial. I used to go round Grandma’s house, and then she was gone, but I was very young.

I had a budgie called Dennis and he did karate. If I stood smartie tubes up he would side-kick them. We loved each other very much. One weekend I went to stay at a friend’s house, which I hadn’t done before, and Dennis pined for me and became very ill and didn’t recover. He fell of his perch dead while I was watching, and then I went for a long bike ride on my Grifter. Mum had to call someone to search for me.

My older sister had a boyfriend who killed himself. He did the thing with the car exhaust, but it was all rather distant. Must have been a scandal in our small English village, I’m sure, but I was young, detached.

My mum lost a baby once, and I was young and naïve and I said “Maybe it’s for the best,” and mum was angry. I don’t know or can’t remember who the baby’s dad was. I don’t know who my dad is either, or if it’s the same dad as my sister. It never really came up.

A few years ago in Glastonbury there seemed to be a spate of local people dying, and it was strange and unsettling. There was a guy who I didn’t really know but a few of us had piled round his flat one night after an evening at The King Arthur. He was a bit weird and untidy, like many of us, and not long after that night he was dead. Apparently he hadn’t been around for a few days, and eventually someone thought to check up on him. He was dead. And Brian, he was a visionary peace and love kind of guy who documented all kinds of events on video. I didn’t know him well or very long at all and then he had cancer and was dying. And then he was dead, all rather quick. That was shocking.

I felt some emotional loss from the deaths of Iain Banks and Rik Mayall. Sometimes the passing of people you don’t know personally can affect you too, and you mourn in your own way.

My wife’s mother and uncle passed within days of each other. She was ten years old at the time. Her mother had a rare condition and she died very suddenly and not pleasantly at all. She also left a son of two and a half. It was many years after that that my wife finally allowed herself to cry again. We cry now for Athena.

There’s a rat-shaped hole in the Universe. Her name was Athena, and now she’s gone.

She left behind eleven beautiful children, and we still have eight of them. Athena’s body is in the freezer until we decide what to do with it. At the very least we’d like to keep her ashes, and we have a box with some photos and the piece of cloth we cuddled her in over the past few days when she needed help to eat and drink and clean herself. She’s gone and it’s strange and we feel the loss keenly. I feel the loss keenly. Sometimes we have to acknowledge the existence of death as real, and no I don’t like it at all. Athena is gone and I miss her.

Death is shit, but I am alive, and death reminds me of that.

 

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