Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bang The Doldrums

"From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity." -Munch Edvard

I've used this quote before to discuss my thoughts on death and dying. Now I use it to remember someone. A friend of mine, named Yasman, died on the 8th. I just got a chill, actually, because I last updated this blog at approximately the time that she died. 7pm on Tuesday the 8th.

I was at work and Amanda texted me:

Omg Lisa did you see yas's fb? She passed away last night :((((((

I was just going on my break, and reading the text message, I couldn't comprehend it for a second. I was just stuck staring at that tiny little screen, my mind blank. I can't remember what my first thought was. I think it was "What?" I went and sat down at the table and mechanically started getting my food ready. I told a few of my friends, and they were all very sympathetic, which was nice. Honestly, I just wanted to tell everybody who walked into the store about what had happened. I wanted everyone to know that there was a Yasman.

I've always disliked the passive euphemism that people use for death. Sleeping. Gone. No longer with us. Taken. Passed away. They're too meek. Death is a harsh fact of life, and I think it's good to be realistic about it. Death is sad. Death is hard. I think we need to use terms like "dead" to help us let go and come to terms with what has happened. If you say that someone is gone, it sounds like they've just gone on a trip, and that they could come back. If you say that someone is taken, it sounds like you could just find them if you looked hard enough.

But Yasman is dead, and we have to remember this.

I've never had anyone close to me die before. Well, my grandparents, but I was so young when it happened that it didn't effect me. I remember knowing that they were dead, but kind of being like "So what? Don't people die all the time?" They do, but as you get older, and your brain can think about more complex things, it's a much, much different experience. First is this sense of... loss. I didn't even know what to do with myself for awhile. Everything felt really futile. Was there a point in even eating? I just felt really shocked. She hadn't even turned 21 yet.

I hadn't seen Yasman in a very long time. Almost 7 years, actually. I was friends with her in grade 8 and 9, and then she left Killarney and moved to Port Coquitlam. I remember it was at the end of October, right before her birthday which is on November 3rd. I remember that she didn't tell us until the week before she left. I think she didn't want us to be sad for too long while she was around. I was a little mad. She was our friend, and of course we would want to know that she was leaving. I think we had a mini-goodbye party for her at our little spot in D-Wing. It was so long ago though, I can't remember...

My two most distinct memories of Yasman are both from grade 9. The first one took place in our spot in D-Wing. There was a girl named Hannah who would come around sometimes, and she was very annoying. One of those preteen girls obsessed with boys and makeup and the possibility of sex. She must have said something particularly depraved that day, because Yasman suddenly got really annoyed and yelled "Oh my god, Hannah, shut up! I swear, you have a sex drive the size of Mount Seymour!" Hannah got really offended and left, at which point Yasman said "Why is she so upset? I mean, Mount Seymour doesn't even have a sex drive." It was incredibly funny to a bunch of 14 year olds.

The second one was of just Yasman and me. Third block had just ended at school, and I was making my way back to my locker. I found Yasman, Alma and Sam slowly walking down the hall, so I called out to them. They turned to look at me, and I stopped dead in my tracks. Sam was crying, and Alma and Yasman had these really grave looks on their faces. "You guys? Where's Amanda?" I asked, suddenly horrified. They had all had PE together, and the look on their faces plus the absence of Amanda told me that something was really wrong. For a split second, I thought "That's it. Amanda is dead." They told me that fallen on the ice and was taken to the hospital. She was okay though. I later found out that she had... compressed her tailbone? I think that's the term. Anyway, there was an assembly that we were supposed to for last block, but Yasman and I were too bummed out, so we decided to skip it and go home. She lived at the very bottom of Champlain Heights, so we were both going in the same direction. I remember that as we were walking, I told her about this story I had read, about a little girl who was born who couldn't feel pain. Literally, she her body could not sense pain. Yasman thought that was really cool, and wished that she had the same ability. I told her though that life for this little girl was going to have to be very cautious. Her mother said that they had to be careful when she ate hot food, because if she was eating something too hot and burning herself, she wouldn't know. Pain is here to remind us to be careful. Yasman eventually agreed, but I had the feeling that she still would have preferred to be like that little girl.

I haven't cried. I feel terrible about not crying. If she was closer to me, I think I would. God, that sounds horrible. It shouldn't matter how close we were. Worse than that, I was briefly thankful that I didn't know her better, because that would mean that this would hurt so much more. I'm feeling very conflicted though, because I also wish that I had known her better. She was a really cool person. I wish I knew what she'd been studying at SFU. I wish we'd had the chance to hang out just once after she moved. More than that, I wish she'd stayed at Killarney, so we could have become better friends and graduated together.

But all this sentiment does not suit Yasman. She was not a sentimental person. She scorned emotions. I think she would be happier that I didn't cry over her, actually. I know she didn't believe in an afterlife either. It's strange to think of someone so vibrant and smart and opinionated just sitting in the ground, decaying. For all my criticism of life after death though, it's nice to think of Yasman as some kind of ghost. Not in heaven and any kind of hereafter, but just walking around among us, laughing at how sad we all are. Silly emotions.

Yasman was gorgeous, no doubt about that. Long black hair, pale skin, big dark eyes. She was Persian, though you never would have known by how pale she was. She was quite the goth when we were in high school, and she always reminded me of a vampire, although she wasn't very intimidating at just over 5 feet tall. She was a fantastic artist, and could talk at great length about the things she was passionate about. She didn't like her name, and later changed it to Autumn.

This still doesn't feel real. I think the funeral will give me some closure and make it feel like it really happened. I don't want to cry, mostly because I think Yasman would disapprove, but also because I want to instead celebrate her life instead of mourn it.

Life is so fleeting, my children.

Yasman (Autumn) Rahnamay
November 3rd 1990 - March 8th 2011
Requiescat In Pace



  1. She was doing a double major in Philosopy and Psychology and if it makes you feel any consolation, I had the same thoughts about wishing I hadn't known her so well so it wouldn't hurt, and wishing I had known her so, so much better.

    <3 I'll see you at the funeral.

  2. I only met her in October when we worked together and only hung out a few times. We were supposed to hang out next week because my work schedules conflicted. I wish I had just booked a day off work now ...

  3. Sharra: I'm not surprised that she ended up taking philosophy classes, haha. Very much her kind of thing. And it does make me feel better that you had the same feelings. Yes, see you at the funeral. It'll be nice to meet some of her friends, even though the circumstances are awful. Be strong.

    Leeann: Yeah, you didn't have to know her long to like her. She had a pretty amazing personality.