I think about disappearing at least once a day.
Which is not to say I am daily considering doing myself in. Not at all. I just think about how amazing it is that we all disappear. I will disappear. Maybe today, maybe in fifty years.
There was a moment for me many years back, just like there probably was for you, when disappearing became a Thing: I had a friend, then I got a phone call, and it became apparent that I didn't have friend any more. Just like that.
I know it's not news.
It's been happening everywhere forever, but that doesn't make it any less magical to me. In the same way as parents-to-be speak about childbirth as if it's never been done, I speak about disappearing as if it is a brand new trick. But just because I know seven billion babies have been born this century doesn't mean I know how to hold my own newborn for the first time, and just because I know we all disappear doesn't mean I have any idea how to do it.
I just find it so hard to believe. I'm here. One day I won't be.
I wonder how differently I would live if I really believed in my impending disappearance. Seems to me people either go nuts or go Gandhi with this kind of knowledge. Or they just distract themselves in one of a million ways.
Today I chose distraction. But I'm one day closer regardless.
I heard a woman say it on the radio today. We all disappear, she said.
She was referring to death and dying. You're here, then you're not. The people closest to you will cry, hang your picture, remember you until they can't and then you're gone.
But sometimes people reappear, long after they've achieved their silent, nameless transparency.
Take my earliest Van Diemonian ancestors. Buried in unmarked graves by their embarrassed children, John and Agnes disappeared quicker than most.
She was born in Glasgow, Scotland in March 1832. She had a mum, a dad, a brother and a sister. When she was 16 she was caught stealing clothes and sent by boat, an unaccompanied minor, to the other end of the earth. Do you remember what you were like at 16?
The records tell us she was ruddy and freckled with brown hair and light blue eyes. Can you picture her? She could read and write too.
When they banished her from Hobart Town she was a tattooed state-made orphan. He was 30 when they wed in Launceston on April 21, 1851.
The couple moved to the north west coast of Tassie and lived on a farm with their kids. In time, they were hidden in the earth.
Yesterday, my uncle sent me an email. I clicked on the attachment and John Townsend appeared.
We all disappear. Sometimes, we reappear.