Tag Archives: death

…a note to self: if not wise, seek advice…(Week Six)


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…suffering -considered mental unlike pain that is physical- is a result of the act of “clinging”, I had once read outside of Bodhidharma, an act of ‘resisting’ in the sense of our ability or lack of readiness ‘to flow with life’…I, for one, am yet to experience a ‘transformation’ of “everything” as I haven’t stopped “clinging” – for the fear that I may forget those most momentous memories, sad and happy alike…that I will have to to face head-on all over again the loss of the loved ones to death and to life…as if to cease to live…

“Once you stop clinging and let things be, you’ll be free, even of birth and death. You’ll transform everything.” ~ Bodhidharma

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…a new poem

APTOPIX Armenia Slaughter Centennial

If it seems to you like I have been preoccupied with the concept of death lately, you are not mistaken. Reasons that take you to this thought also find me, is my only defense. When one new sad coincidence hit me hard enough, I ended up in a brief direct speech with life’s notorious opposite. In my miniscule poem below. But first, allow me to share with you what to me came as a tragic irony:

May 7th is the date when my mother died – at the age of 48. May 7th was, however, the birthday of my mother’s beloved older brother. He died recently after achieving 84 years among the living. This past Thursday, May 7th has marked the 40th day after his death – according to some practicing Muslims, a time demanding a memorial event. I thus hope to justify my point of focus…

oh death

show me a way

not to love beyond sanity

teach me how to mourn in dignity

in honor of the nothing’s eternity

with grace

© hülya n. yılmaz, April 4, 2015

This poem was one of my three contributions for the May 2015 issue of The Year of the Poet, a monthly book series published by Inner Child Press, Ltd.


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When a larger-than-life beloved is no longer…

dayim-2.Sinop 2006

The photograph above is one of the many I had taken of my larger-than-life beloved maternal uncle with two of his grandchildren in 2006 in my former flat in Sinop, Turkey – my back-then-short-lived-residence he had enabled me to purchase and renovate from top to bottom. He was overjoyed to have my Turkish home in the same building as his own.


A 2012 photograph I believe to have originated from his flat in Celle, Germany.

The Turkish poem below belongs to my beloved Dr. (Med.) Mahmut Oğuz Ergün, in which he reminisces some of his vivid memories from his early life in Sinop – his birth town in Turkey he loved with passion. While I am sharing his heartfelt words with you, I remain in the hope that you also had, have or will have the rare fortune of knowing the beauty of someone as special to you as you couldn’t possibly describe but would have to conceive at the core of your being. For me, that beloved legend was Mahmut dayım – my maternal uncle, with whose death early yesterday morning my life has stopped being a privilege of his making.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

His poem, “Sinop’um” with a brief insight:

I may eventually translate and re-post my uncle’s Turkish poem, “My Sinop” but refrain from doing so for the time being, because I know I won’t be able to do justice right now to his upbeat, mischievous lad-like poetic tone or his tireless enthusiasm for life mirrored in every line below. I lack all of the above. At least for today.


Gene gemilerin ışıkları görülüyor limanda

Demek dehşetli bir fırtına var dışarda

Yeşilimsi, mavimsi, beyaz köpüklü dalgalar

Ürkütüyor gemileri açıklarda

Gene Sinop kollarını açmış limanda

Bağrına basmış, koruyor onları kucağında

Eskiden de böyleydi, çocukluğumu yaşadığım Sinopda

Bahçe içinde ahşap bir evimiz vardı adada

Sabah, motor sesleri ile uyanırdım yatağımda

Taka taka, taka taka, taka taka

Yolcu vapuru uğrardı iki kere haftada

Yolcular, karşılayanlar, satıcılar kaynaşırdı limanda

O zamanlar, demir atardı gemiler açıkta

Yolcular çıkardı iskeleye motorlarla

Taka taka, taka taka, taka taka

Bir çok balıkçı kulubeleri vardı kıyıda

Uskumru, hamsi palamut dolu tekneler

Neşeyle dönerlerdi kış akşamlarında

Taka taka, taka taka, taka taka

Gündüzleri balık tutardık adabaşında

Geceleri fenerle lüfer beklerdik kayıkta

Iyi kalpli bir balıkçı motoru

Bizi çekerek götürürdü limana

Taka taka, taka taka, taka taka

Yüzmeyi öğrenmiştim su yuta yuta

Beş yaşında denize girerdim çukurbağında

Eve geç gelince, korkudan girerdim yatağıma

Ama denizin tuzu kalırdı yanağımda

Güzel annem anlardı yüzümü yalayınca

Hınzır derdi, gene denize girmişsin çukurbağında

Cık yataktan, gir bakayım banyoya

Seni velet seni, öyle yalancıktan ağlama

Piri pak olmuş girerdim yatağıma

Ucuz kurtuldum diyerek dalarken uykuya

Gene ninni gibi gelen motor sesleri

Taka taka, taka taka, taka taka

© MOE- Celle -Almanya; 30 Nisan 2004

MOE is how dayım – Mahmut Oğuz Ergün, would sign his full name, sometimes with his medical title right before it.


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when time stood still

For 8.31.2014 Blog Post.1326030


are you chlostrophobic

you did very well the last time


staples nausea feverishness anxious about that intruder

acutely aware now of that overly tight of a loneliest space

breathing hurts regardless


the better choice, mri not doable, too early to discard the stitches

surgical endoscopy under general anesthesia a must


not major, considering

a setback nevertheless



when have i become this fortunate, dear Drs. C, A, D, P, Thu, S, Tho

to have you circle around me

not giving up

though perplexed from the onset


how do you manage

to turn nighttimes

into bearable patches

you beautiful sweet Ma, A, Me, S, T, D, B, L


and Alice, oh sweet Alice

your aged yet capable body catering to the troubled vessel of mine

those clear-sky-blue gorgeous eyes reading my face with caring intent

you are a unique woman – your soothing voice rises high

it’s the least i can be

amid you wonder-generating women of various ages

after all

when time stood still for me

wrapped in the silence of death

a precious offering from you all would not




hülya n yılmaz (August 25, 2014)














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existential crisis or incomparable bliss?

POSTED.image for ölümü düşünüyorum














You would all believe me, if I told you he is far more beautiful than this picture does him justice, wouldn’t you? Yes! This image is of my grandson’s. His unintended pose here is utmost precious to me because the shoulder on which he has fallen asleep like an angel of my childhood fantasies happens to be mine. I remember having frozen my daughter right on the spot with my smile of who knows how many thousands of volt. My shoulder has been in this position many times before – in fact, my photo here is an older one when my tiny love had just made it to his two months (he is three-and-a half months old in his photo here). With my lucky charm’s shapely head, chubby cheeks, button nose, mother’s mouth and heavenly breath for me to inhale and never let go from inside me. And, those tiny hands with their father’s fingers – just recently freed from their sharp-nail-repellent baby mittens (his grooming kit is very difficult for his mom to near him with…)! Closing and opening at his dreams’ will to let me know I am there with him. In flesh and blood.

Then, I get to go home. Alone. Days go by fast with demanding work.  The nights should follow suit. For, a teacher’s duties multiply outside the classroom to occupy all evenings, weekends and holidays. I end up doing some more work. But, I get distracted (affordably so, of course) and have the urge to write. About many issues of and angles on our existences. The night when my poem below came to me was exceptionally intense in some personal longing and recollection of a recent loss (to life). I had already started mourning over my self without having exited my lifespan yet…On account of “things” not having been possible for me to materialize, nor to hope for, feeling out of time, and other similar harsh realizations. Being made foremost of emotions, my typing took me to an experience of angst. Not for myself, though, but rather only for the afterward. The ultimate innocence, a fully submissive display of trust, the purest and most unconditional love and eyeful of whole body excitement my grand baby was giving me as a priceless gift began to overwhelm me. It was, as if I had just realized what had happened: I, indeed, was the grandmother of a miracle baby boy. Moreover, with him becoming acutely aware of and visibly happy about the wordless interaction between us. Melancholy hit me. The outcome was the following short verse in my native tongue…(an English translation of it is right beneath the original):


ölümü düşünüyorum

eskimiş kalıbıma konup duran inanılmaz bir güzellik nefesinde

yol yorgunu soldakine en karşılıksız masum sevgi gözlerinde

hani cennetten derler ya, işte öylesine kökten gülüşlerinde

korkum sadece benden sonra göreceklerine


i am thinking of death

an indescribable beauty in his breath touching on and off my worn out frame

the most unconditional purest love in his eyes for the trek-weary one on my left

you know how they say: of heaven? such original depth in his smiles

my sole fear

what will he be dealt with

after me

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I wish you all thoughts on and plans for life alone and look forward to your visit next Sunday!


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#DailyBookQuote 20Sep13 : Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain

My heartfelt thanks are with you, dear bhuwanchand, for giving me the chance to reblog from your work with utmost enthusiasm and conviction.  Long ago, I had posted an interview by  Ted Koppel with Morrie Schwartz including his following words that had been haunting me since I first read them (as writtten by Mitch Album): “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” The key concept in your post, “love”, is, to me, the only power we can rely on in surpassing death. And there, certainly is no reason that can rule out such permanence.

Whatever It is Worth...

#DailyBookQuote : 20th September 2013

 Thomas Mann

–          Thomas Mann (June 06, 1875 – August 12, 1955)

–          Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain

In this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Mann uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps, a community devoted exclusively to sickness, as a microcosm for Europe, which in the years before 1914 was already exhibiting the first symptoms of its own terminal irrationality. The Magic Mountain is a monumental work of erudition and irony, tension and intellectual ferment, a book that pulses with life in the midst of death.


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Dying into love

Last Sunday, my reflections were all about thanking you, dear reader.  As on any day of your visit, also today I have my thanks for you but also some thoughts on the relationship between love and death.  Love – the essence of life.  In the loss of which immeasurable pain rules, seizing the soul in its gradual death.  At times, taking along also the remainder of the person, as my contemplations on three famous examples will show.  All women.  The biographical details on each are widely known.  Therefore, I won’t bore you with a repetition.

Jeanne Hebuturne, the last love of Amadeo ModiglianiSylvia Plath, the love and wife of fellow poet Ted Hughes and Camille Claudel, the lover and muse of  Auguste Rodin.

 “Modigliani”, the film begins with Jeanne Hebuterne before her jump to her death, asking, if we ever lived love, “real love” to the extent that we would “condemn” ourselves to “eternity in hell”.  As she has:

In the film, “Sylvia” the poetess suffers immense pain grieving the loss of her husband to an affair:

Her repeated utterances, “I’m going to die, I’m going to die” foretell her dying into love before her suicide takes place:

In the same titled film, Camille Claudel’s destruction following the end of her affair with Rodin, for whom she is claimed by respected biographers to have been the muse, is very difficult to watch, for she is in infinite despair:

She doesn’t commit suicide.  But also her life ends as she, too, dies into love.

Death.  A topic requiring an open-ended discussion of phenomenal context.  An attempt I won’t even pretend to be able to make.  My only intent is to offer a definition of it through research compiled in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “[T]he irreversible cessation of organismic functioning and human death as the irreversible loss of personhood.”

An all-consuming love is what the three women of my focus had lived.  How their “organismic functioning” and “personhood” had terminated in ‘irreversible’ manner, does not matter.  What the loss of their love consumed off of them, does.  I know for I have been there.  Not once, not twice but three times already.  After the loss of my first love.  Following my mother’s death – by its encyclopedic definition.  When I lost my late love.

As for my love for my daughter, my only child, my fear over my own death compares nothing to the anguish I feel and have felt since her birth for any hurt she may have to suffer.  But, this issue deserves an entire reflection column all by itself.  And I better get you to my conclusion for today.  Namely, the following statements of fame attesting to the fact that there, indeed, is death for some of us before death – into love, of the heart/inside, of hope, of inspiration, of awareness:

“It is love, not reason, that is stronger than death.” – Thomas Mann

“The heart dies a slow death, shedding each hope like leaves until one day there are none. No hopes. Nothing remains.” – Arthur Golden

“The tragedy of life is in what dies inside a man while he lives – the death of genuine feeling, the death of inspired response, the awareness that makes it possible to feel the pain or the glory of other men in yourself.” – Norman Cousins

“What is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying.” – Albert Camus

“Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.” – Benjamin Franklin

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Für meine liebe Lilia Felice Siede, die ich dank meiner liebsten Yasemin Ergün als Neugeborenes in meinen Armen als die “hülya Teyze” halten durfte: Meine herzlichsten Wünsche zum Geburtstag! For my dear Lilia Felice Siede, whom I was allowed to hold in my arms as a newborn as her “Auntie hülya” thanks to my dearest Yasemin Ergün: My most heartfelt wishes for your birthday!

I have written this poem also to honor the memory of my long-deceased cousin, Yasemin Ergün from her heart who was robbed by a fatal cancer of any opportunity beyond a mere one year to celebrate her daughter’s much sought birth.

To all cancer survivors: May you live long, healthy lives with your loved ones!


Lilia, *mein Schatz

you won’t know me

I left too soon


you were born of love and longing so strong

made me feel immortal by your side

merely a year, though, is all we had aside


you are a young woman now,

beautiful, bright and loved very much

no longer the tiny darling in my arms

precious but ever so fragile,

sending me beams for immense joy

shaming even the cancer of its call


it is your birthday today

I am not there for you again

but don’t be sad as you are not on your own


also the one with whom you locked eyes long ago


in my in-laws’ house, on the ground story

when we were cradling you, a newly born beauty

the one who probably mirrored me to you

for the color of her skin, hair and eye

whose both arms better secured you many a meal

before you glided into a sleep so deep and real


embraces you always with my and her love combined

whom I introduced to you in her mother’s tongue

you know, mein Schatz, you have met her online anew

the one who signs her e-mails hülya *Teyze for me and you


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

* (German): my treasure; my darling; my sweetheart

* (Turkish): aunt; auntie (non-biological)


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NaPoWriMo Challenge: Day 17

Today, I adapt to the prompt from day 6 on the NaPoWriMo challenge but it is day 17. Since all prompts are optional, I take this liberty with no feelings of guilt (!)  Maureen Thorson describes the task as follows: “[…] This might seem like a bit of a downer, but I challenge you to write a valediction. This is a poem of farewell.  Perhaps the most famous one is John Donne’s “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning”, which turns the act of saying good-bye into a very tender love poem. But your poem could say “good-bye” (and maybe good riddance!) to anything or anyone. A good-bye to winter might be in order, for example. Or good-bye to the week-old [E]aster eggs in your refrigerator. Light or serious, long or short, it’s up to you!”

As a semi-confident pessimist, my heart takes me to a serious goodbye, one I have dreaded severely during my daughter’s infant, toddler, formative, teenage years and even early twenties. For I had feared to leave her without a mother when she still needed one.  Now that she is a young but very mature adult, I am able to shed those feelings of dread…


my mother, grieving over her own

believed I must leave before I arrived

my melancholy is meant to be

don’t you, *Bir Tanem, ever think thus!



grieved over her;

him, whom you know of;

myself, the once intact one;

my accidental life

them, who loved me so

yet migrated one by one



aching heart


burdened years


a *can torn from *canan


on eternal leave

had arrived this time



just don your prominent smile, Bir Tanem!

Let your beautiful self evade all ills!

Hold that delightful thrill in your eyes!


Life is stunning, as it is arduous.

Hurt is incredibly real but so is joy.



keep at your path through and through

don’t forget to taste others, too

demand from your crossroads – one or two

to not close you in with whomever!

Whether a mate or a lover,

make sure to only have a *dost beside you.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Turkish words in translation:

Bir Tanem: My One and Only

can: life; soul

canan: the beloved

dost (in its original meaning): gender-neutral friend for life; bad-time friend

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“How old is s/he?”

His mother died when she was 48.  His brother died, having been able to pass a mere 32 birthdays.  His sister died also at the age of 48.  He had to give his daughter to death when she was only 31.  He had cancer before she was diagnosed with hers.  Soon after she died, his body formed another type.  A third struck him last week.  Not metastasis of his first, or the second.  A new one.

He is 82.

He practiced medicine right after his graduation from the medical university in Istanbul, Turkey.  Having served for decades in Germany as the head physician in the hospital from where he retired years ago.  He knows what must be done when, whenever medical interferences are concerned.  He has led countless surgical procedures during his tenure.  He has tended to post-surgery needs of his numerous patients of all ages and walks of life during his time.

The medical staff of the hospital where he has had two surgeries in short intervals, responded to his two calls for alarm after half an hour had passed.  One was for dangerously low, the other for dangerously high blood pressure – both along with breathing difficulties. Half an hour of a wait!  On the night of his surgery!  Why not take longer to let the patient develop fatal post-surgery complications?  He lived 82 years, after all, isn’t that enough?

Describing the ordeal she and her 55-year-old husband had because of his cancer and ensuing death, Cheryl Eckl makes a remarkable statement in her essay, Elder Grief: The Hidden Burden of Advanced Age. Why growing really old may be worse than dying young (Published on May 24, 2012 by Cheryl Eckl in A Beautiful Grief: “[…] what he was not suffering was the additional burden of advanced age.”  Referring then to her mother’s declining health at a very advanced age, Eckl considers “that perhaps even worse than dying young is living to be very old, with little quality of life due to several serious ailments, but not being sick enough to leave this world.”  Her mother, Eckl writes, knows several people “who would be very happy not to wake up tomorrow.”

On this blood-freezing sentiment, Eckl contemplates as in the following: “That is the cruelty being suffered in obscurity by millions of the elderly who are shut away in nursing homes and senior living centers across the United States. Bored, lonely, in pain, or so demented or sedated that they don’t know who they are, these are the forgotten mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunties, and uncles who deserve better attention than they are receiving.”

For the onset of her cancer and the metastasis of it, my mother was treated through surgical procedures in Turkey and in Germany.   Three decades ago.  My mother didn’t want to be advanced in age to the extent that she would no longer be able to live a life of quality.  She got her wish.

My uncle’s “case” is happening in Germany.  Today.

The United States, in other words, is not the only cultural entity where this “cruelty” goes on.

For people who are among those living beyond their expected age of death – whatever that may be, Eckl invites us to imagine how for them “the borders of daily experience narrow as distress grows and the ability to perform all but the simplest of tasks disappears.”   What does Eckl suggest as a balm for a life having to consist of “a succession of doctor appointments and increasingly invasive and dehumanizing treatments”?  Love and our presence in their lives.

He is 82.  He has always been present in my life.  And still is.  In Eckl’s words, he has never deprived me of his “heartfelt presence” (Eckl) Or, of his love.  Unconditional love.  After my mom’s death, he told me he finds in me his mother – “Anamsın” and his sister (my mom) –“Bacımsın.”  After his daughter’s death, he saw her in me – “Kızımsın.”

In him, I always found a fully involved father.  I still do.  I went through many ordeals.  He was there for me during each one of them.  I love him so.

Where is, though, my heartfelt presence when he needs it the most?

Dayı, beni affet.


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