I’ve just finished watching The English Patient and am a blubbering mess. I’m not talking a tiny tear gliding down my cheek. No, I was wailing. Howling. I believe ‘Why do people have to diiiiiiiie?,’ was what I sobbed as the credits rolled.
Three hours earlier, I was happy. Rain was lashing the windows as wind whipped around the cabin. Glass of wine in hand, I thought a romantic movie was just the ticket for a long afternoon in front of the fire.
Of course, I knew that a movie about the war was bound to involve death. But it wasn’t the senseless deaths that disturbed me. It was when the little nurse (played by Juliette Binoche) broke down, wondering why everyone who ever loved her died. Thinking she was a bad omen.
It was when the nurse filled the syringe with half a dozen doses of morphine and cried as she realised what she was about to do. Release a man to meet his lover.
Even then, I was simply sniffing.
But then the nurse read the poem Kristin’s character had written:
“We die. We die rich with lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we’ve entered and swum up like rivers. Fears we’ve hidden in – like this wretched cave. I want all this marked on my body. Where the real countries are. Not boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men. I know you’ll come carry me out to the Palace of Winds. That’s what I’ve wanted: to walk in such a place with you. With friends, on an earth without maps.”
And then I wailed. Heaved with tears and sadness. It was a sweet sentiment, sure, but how I hate to be reminded of death!
I know we all have to die and farewell our friends, our loves, life. But how I wish we could live forever.
Then again…Ralph’s character was ready to meet his death. He had heard his lover’s final words. There was nothing left for him in this world. He wished to be free from his body, so he could walk with her in the Palace of Winds. Eternally.
So perhaps that’s the meaning of life. To find meaning. To find a reason to live…and then a reason to die.
When we’ve given our all, when we’ve poured out our heart, life awaits somewhere else. Of course, some of us don’t have the chance to prepare. Life is whisked away and our loved ones are left behind to make sense of it all. So all we can do is leave our mark on each day and, when we head off to bed, know that we gave that day our best shot.
Now excuse me while I top up my glass of red and switch on The Hangover. I need a giggle!