We’re experiencing what’s being called a “once in a millennium” heatwave up here in the Pacific Northwest, where nobody I know has air conditioning and we put on shorts when the temperature hits 65 degrees. The day I’m writing this, my town is forecasted to get up to 106 degrees. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in heat like this, especially not here, where we keep our mild, blue-skied summers a secret under the guise that it’s always raining here.
The idea that this is “once in a millennium” is, to some degree, a relief. But we also live in an evolving climate crisis, where events like this can become more frequent and devastating as conditions change. What “once in a millennium” looked like before this is different from what it’ll look like after.
I don’t say this to be bleak. I tend to fixate on the negative at the expense of the positive, but I am trying to spend less time looking at singular events as endings. Reframing things is a large part of an ongoing healing practice for me, and while this heatwave is neither a cause nor a symptom of what’s specific to me, it brings me back to something climate writer Mary Annaïse Heglar said in her piece, “Home is Always Worth It”:
Even if I can only save a sliver of what is precious to me, that will be my sliver and I will cherish it. If I can salvage just one blade of grass, I will do it. I will make a world out of it. And I will live in it and for it.
When things feel bleak, I cling to this notion. I don’t have to resign myself to anything, and nor do we, as communities and nations and humans, do not have to resign ourselves to anything. We can keep pushing back, even if success feels impossible.
Anyway, here’s a drabble.
MORS VINCIT OMNIA
(phrase) Latin for “Death conquers all.”
To her, to conquer death is not to promise immortality. People get ideas of vampires or ghosts, of lives lived in cobwebs, without sunlight. They think of dead things spliced together, shambling on fragile ankles, minds dull with decay.
Perhaps ‘conquer’ is the wrong word; she doesn’t want to stop death, only reimagine it. If she can understand it, pin it to a card, break it down into pieces that can be analyzed, maybe the relationship with death will shift into something not to be feared. She races against time, trying to understand a thing before it understands her first.