In Memoriam-Alan Austrin 1989-2015
By Kevin Clements
In Memoriam –Alan Austrin 1989-2015
From: Kevin Clements
There is nothing like a bout of pneumonia in the middle of summer to arouse feelings of mortality; and give some sense of life's precarity and the arbitrariness and unpredictability of the taken for granted.
While I was feeling mortal and waiting for the antibotics to kick in I was sent a note from a friend indicating that the 26 year old son of my former colleagues, Terry Austrin and Nabila Jaber, Alan Austrin, had been killed in a motor cycle accident on the Paekakariki beach near Wellington.
Alan was Terry and Nabila's only son. Soon after he was born we often baby sat for him. You don't expect someone you baby sat for to die before you!
Anyway the news hit me with a dull thud. It made my own mortal anxieties pale into total insignificance.
Alan was a 26 year old, writer, musician and student. He was in a creative relationship with Rebecca Nash ( also a writer) and they had produced a little 4 month old baby daughter Noelle. Friends describe Alan as a "Lovely laid back guy who really loved his daughter".
There is no rational explanation for this death. It is tragic and meaningless. Even though I have not seen him for years Alan's death still seems strangely personal
Everyone is in shock and grief. Alan's demise reminds us of how fragile and unpredictable all life is. Rebecca is now a widow and a solo mother. Noelle will never know her father. Terry and Nabila will never see their son realise all his/their hopes and aspirations for the future. They won't be able to experience his growth into middle age. The world of letters and music will be deprived of his talents and gifts. Those of us who welcomed him into the world 26 years ago feel absence instead of presence.
Yet at any one moment there is a natural ebb and flow to life everywhere.
Babies are born and fill their parents and relatives with hope for the future. In other places people are dying leaving behind others to make sense of the whys and the whens and the circumstances of their passing. Some die of natural causes some of very unnatural and preventable ones.
The news today is filled with stories about politically driven murder in France. Extremists killing innocent civilians French police killing extremists. There is a report of another suicide bombing in Pakistan. Bokol Haram creating more mayhem in Nigeria. Celebrities die with universal acknowledgement others die where they are often unnoticed, unmourned, and ignored.
There would be no literature, no art, no films, no music, no food, no love, no hospitality, no God, no meaning without the eternal cycle of birth, death, new birth rebirth. Narratives-stories-discourses are all embodied: They all begin with copulation and birth followed by a wide variety of different transitions, seeding and flowering , seeding and barenness, beginnings and ends, inevitable death. While young deaths seem particularly tragic they have their own completeness especially if the individual concerned is creative and life affirming . There are many long lives that often produce little in the way of creative impulse.
But on this day all of this sounds platitudinous. Alan died before his time, a short rather than a long story, a sad rather than a happy song. Deep commiserations to all those who loved him.
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