Have you ever felt death? Have you ever sank into it’s inky, little blanket? Most likely, the answer is no because you’re here, reading these words. Although, if you’ve ever been so close to death that you saw “The Light”, then you have felt the fear of death only. There is a large difference between feeling death and embracing death. I had a very riveting and perhaps, some may call it “dark” thought about death just days ago. Why are we afraid of dying? The contrast of death against our lives installs fear in us. Does the very thought of our non-existence scare us? Or are we afraid of crossing the boundary? I asked myself this when I was very young and a bit too curious. Thoughts do come back to bite you.
Putting death in different terms, such as “taking your last breath” can make death seem as harsh and raw as a fresh wound. That is because we don’t have any other chance to breathe. That’s it. No more air for you. That’s petrifying to us, to have zero chances at breathing or living. Most are not ready for that. But let us move past the lack of air in death. Let us move past the man made equation: death=pain and suffering. Most know the common acronym RIP, also know as Rest In Peace. This means that death must be peaceful, right? Well, if it is, why are we so afraid of that? You must be wondering why you are allowing a high school student to explain death to you. What experience does a student have with death? Well, in fact, I actually have a friend of mine who grasped the smooth blackness once. Let’s call him Colin.
Colin was three years old in a Sears store. He held his mother’s hand with such might. Colin’s mother always told him to never run off in stores. Colin doesn’t know if it was fate, destiny or God himself that told him to run at a shelf like an angry bull, but he listened alright. Poor thing tripped before hitting the bottom of the shelf with enough force to knock him out cold. He remembers crying and seeing red water everywhere. He remembers the cries of his mother. Colin, wake up, Colin! He recalls touching where the agony flamed and pulling his hand back to see dark crimson all over it. His vision turned red, his cries faded. All Colin thought about was how he could watch the next Sonic X episode. Who would Mother kiss good night? Who’s going to feed Teddy? All the panic vanishes, as a black shadow comes to take his soul away. In the shadow’s warm arms, Colin felt at peace, no longer anxious for the life he left behind. Suddenly, the Shadow turns around, drops Colin back in his body and says,”Not today”. Colin opens his eyes, surrounded by his apprehensive mother and concerned paramedics. Let’s say Colin was myself as the young and foolish child who decided to let go. The scar remains, stale and slightly faded.
I didn’t even know what death was when I was three. I really thought it meant that you disappear off the surface of the earth in a poof. Truthfully, I still have no clue what happened that day precisely. Death is confusing. Or, maybe it’s confusion itself. As I age, I never see the world the same. I have seen the same street for ten years, yet when I come across it at fourteen, I notice the the sun glints off of the top of a tall business building. It’s the same with death. I thought it was the monster under my bed when I was four. Ten years later, here I am writing about it. I really think the “shadow” was only a figment of my wild, three-year-old imagination. Fear thrusting it’s sharp little claws into me probably had a peculiar affect on my mind. I doubt everyone will see, feel and hear the same things I did when I blacked out.
Despite the events I previously endured at such a young age, I still fear my own demise. I also feel eerily deceived. Deceived by the truth about dying. All my life, I’ve been spoken to about death as if it were some kind of mental chaos that takes place when your heart stops. As I child, I would think about not having thoughts about anything at all when you die. Having a mind wiped clean. If you’ve been told the same when you were young, your elders know that it’s not your time to leave yet. This is why we weep at funerals. It wasn’t their time, or we miss those of whom it was. What if we thought of death as something to be gained and not a loss? That would be the world’s beginning and end.
Recently this past autumn, a family member of mine died. A week before he perished, he told me, “Sometimes, in high school you just have to be cool”. His frail, rusted voice is permanently engraved into my mind to this day. We use death as threat. For doing something wrong, for breaking the law. We feel we lose everything when we die. For some it’s a relief. It was for him. There’s something else I remember him saying (not to me, I just over heard). He said that he went to bed like a feather a while ago. He believes he saw an angel or maybe even God, but he said it was so blindingly white, he could not see anything. What spoke to me the most is that he said he wasn’t in any pain, he felt so at peace he wanted to stay in the state for eternity. “I wasn’t supposed to wake up,” he said, “I’m still here, man”. A week later I was told that he was in his State of Peace. For good this time.
Genuinely, I don’t want to live forever. I think of immortality as layers. The world just keeps layering it’s self on top of you. I don’t want to watch the world go on and on for centuries in the same shell we call our bodies. I would feel like the world is shattering around me. My friends will die. My family will die. Those I love will die. I’d be left behind, the immortal. The immortal gradually growing transparent and vanishing. I’d would want to be free.
But when you feel you’ve reached the last dead end, what would you do to carve yourself out of destiny? Would you take the remaining shard of your life into your heart? Would you rather take defeat?
The fear of death follows from the fear of life – Mark Twain