In the Company of Death
Ever since I can remember, I’ve known I was going to die. I don’t mean it in the way that we all know it to be true. There’s not very many people that still believe they can live forever, although there are plenty that are trying to prolong their lives as long as possible. I mean it in the way that I feel death in my bones, my skin, in every hair on my head… It’s ever present in my frame of view, like a cloud hanging over my head that lowers and raises itself in my atmosphere as it pleases.
I know I’m going to die in the way that the corners of my vision sometimes darken, threatening to overtake me and swallow me into the black. Death is my most fervent companion, announcing its presence so often I expect it.
Death is a man, in my so humble opinion. Death is a man because I've never known a woman to be so aggressively persistent in their cat calling me, hoping one day I’ll approach, flattered and willing to go with him.
I know what some of you may be wondering: I do suffer from depression. My diagnoses came at a young age and I haven’t quite figured out what came first: the diagnoses or the depression. Either way, I have it now and since then.
But Death and Depression aren’t related in my life. They exist in each other’s orbits, like Mars and Venus, but they have very little to do with each other. Their only relation is that they orbit around me, their dimly lit sun. Sometimes they collide and present themselves concurrently, but mostly they come separately.
When Depression visits, she, because of course she is a she, floats in quietly without announcing her presence. Eventually, I figure out that she is around, but only after it’s too late. She’s already nestled into the main bedroom and wants me to join her for a lie down. She’s very convincing and very debilitating. She demands all my attention and, when she is at her most persistent, I can do nothing but be with her as she sucks the life out of me... until I feel empty.
But Death, he comes quickly and swiftly. One second I’m existing and the next he’s threatening to take me from the face of the earth. The dark corners appear in my eyes and my breath leaves my chest and I am aware of the potential nothingness, blackness waiting on the other side and I foresee the easiest way for it all to end in that moment in time and then I catch my breath and he’s gone. But the panic lingers.
I believe in God and Heaven, so much so that I don’t even believe in Hell. I believe in love and leaving the world in a marginally better state. I believe that this world is not the only thing that exists in the universe. I believe that Death is just a messenger, calling me home. But sometimes I don’t.
Maybe Death is a job. There are multiple messengers with multiple ways of getting their human to their eternity. Maybe my guy is twisted and fucked up in that he wants me to know that he’s waiting for me. Maybe he tortures me for fun. Or maybe it’s intentional.
The way I live my life is often inspired by my cloud of Death. There is always a sense of urgency and a sense that there is not much time left. There is no time.
There’s no time for me to care about the opinions of others. There’s no time for me to waste waiting for an appropriate time to do the thing that I know is the right thing to do. There’s no time to waste entertaining people who will never love me. There is no time to waste not seeing the world before I leave it. There is no time to hate the body that is carrying me through until the end. There is no time to waste being miserable in a job that doesn’t bring me joy. There is no time to have week long fights with my partner when we can just resolve it quickly. There is no time to not try the thing, to do the thing, to love the thing, to be the thing. There is no time because Death reminds me constantly and aggressively that there is and will never be enough time.
I could wallow in the futile nature of this life. I could believe that nothing matters, so why do anything at all, or I could believe that the time I have can be spent living life to its most beautiful potential without wasting time on things that don’t make it beautiful.
Maybe Death presents himself so aggressively because I’m meant to do things differently, more urgently. Maybe this is how things should always be done. I’ve always known that I would never be all that ordinary, but maybe Death is just telling me I’ve always been right about that.
When I first learned of Heaven and Hell and raptures and being left behind, Death started knocking on my door. I took the time and figured out when this awareness of Death started. I was nine years old when Death was presented to me, outstretched in the arms of the Church and I was told that this was all that I should think about. Everything I do, should be because of Death. The Church instilled the thought deeply into me and I suppose they succeeded in implanting the notion into my brain, but I’ve succeeded in twisting it into something less… traumatizing.
Instead of fearing Death for the purposes of salvation, I fear Death for the purposes of love. Until the day the darkness finally overcomes my field of view and my messenger carries me home, I will fear not having loved enough of this life and all that is in it. My cloud of Death will always loom over my head, but maybe it’s not so burdensome. Maybe it’s a gift.