Why I Write of Death

January 7, 2014
By ArwenLFoster GOLD, Toronto, Other
ArwenLFoster GOLD, Toronto, Other
12 articles 4 photos 1 comment

  By writing emotionally heartbreaking stories, many people have the notion that I am accustomed to losing loved ones, therefore I channel my emotions likewise into my work. See, that's where they're wrong.

  On the contrary, I have never actually lost anybody close to me in my adolescence. Not so far. At sixteen, I wasn't one of those people who had a very mortal social circle. I personally knew only a handful of people who died, and most of their deaths went by unemotionally because of my detached relationship with them, despite them being relatives near to me. In high school and whatnot, several of my dearest and most beloved friends threatened suicide many, many times, but it never really happened and for that I am ever grateful. I merely wept at my hamster's demise when I was eight, and hardly ever again since.

  However, late in middle school, I had lost a very strong bond with my childhood bestie, and months later heard that her father had died. Instantly I was overwhelmed with a strange emotion I couldn't understand. I was shocked, moved but unable to cry. I barely knew this man when it comes down to it - but at the same time, I knew him too. Pretty well in fact. I knew that he had always been patient and generous to me, kind to me like I was his own, cracking jokes to break the ice whenever he saw me. He never passed my father or me without a smile, helped so many families and individuals, but most of all, he let me confide in him when my heart was breaking during those stupid arguments and silent treatments. He always hoped my friend and I would bond again, asked me constantly if anything was working out, but sadly, after he passed away, we continued to remain separated. I guess it just wasn't meant to be. But it struck me as strange that a man who had merely been there was no longer...well, there anymore. It all happened so fast.

 Just three weeks into the summer of this year, my closest friend called me in the dead of the night in solemn tears after weeks of deathly silence. She related that just a few hours ago, she heard that her cousin, who was only two years younger than us, had died. Her cousin lived two provinces away from us, in rural Alberta, and I always heard about her and saw her social network pictures and even read a book she left behind with my friend. I never knew her personally, but I had some sort of strange connection with her. I felt worse than terrible. I felt empty. She was only 14 - she didn't even live up to our age. So did most of the kids there, some of whom were actually in my own year. And naturally I began to think of my own coming death, which seemed so far and yet so near.

 She had been in a car with five other teengers, two more girls and three guys, on the border of the province, driving from a wild bonfire party, and the car had rolled over into a swamp, only to be crushed by an upcoming truck. The kids, who were all teens, were killed instantly.
  I read the article on the news in disbelief. It was like I didn't even know this person, but I did. I heard so much about her from my best friend, like I almost met her even. But I never got a chance. And I never will.
  She will never get to grow up and study and travel the world. She never even got a chance to see her cousin before she died. I remember her Hotmail account, her pictures online, and a stupid thought came into my mind - who's going to deactivate her account for her since she isn't there anymore? What if people keep writing her emails? She'll never get to open them, reveal their contents, laugh at the stupidity of it all. It'll lay abandoned for ages until Hotmail deactivates it automatically, unknowing of the fate of the person. That book she left behind at my friend's house, a cheesy teen novel called "Flipped", had her name scrawled inside the cover. Since my friend and I read everything, from bestsellers and classics to outdated local newspapers and poorly written free e-books, we read it and criticized it and laughed about the enormity of idiocy and low IQ levels in the main characters. Yet she held this book once, her eyes had skimmed over the same words as mine, she probably laughed at the same parts as we did, despite the ridiculous plot. And she will never read it, hold it, not so much as look it at it again.

Where was she going, with her guy and girlfriends? Was she sure she would get there? Was she laughing before she died, listening to radio bass and joking, or sitting in angry silence of awkward tension? Was she thinking of death?

 Was she thinking of meeting God so soon?
 Wherever Aimie was going, she never got there. Wherever her friends were going, they didn't either. And I wonder where they are now, and how they feel.

Someone who was so alive and full of want and need a while ago was no longer a part of the world. Someone who perched on my friend's couch and touched her things, her furniture, her walls, has vanished. In an instant a car rolled over, laughter turned to screams, confidence turned to horror, and a life was finished. Many lives were finished.

  And you think - damn. That could have been us. My friends and I could have been the ones piled into a car on our way to a party or a gathering or a shopping spree, one of us would be driving with a brand new license, cool and  confident. Easily could have God replaced them with us. It could have been. It could have been me.

  An accident similar to this one occurred when I wasn't even born.  A set of senior girls in the history of my school had planned a barbecue. They had been my principal's favorite students back in the early 90s. Polite, charming, top of the class gals. That day they went for the barbecue. One of the girls had just got her licence, and she ignored the warnings of her parents and teachers. They were driving on until they swevered off the road and struck a fence, rolling over till there was nothing left of them. none of the girls made it out alive - thus they never even graduated. The mother of the driver who had moments ago kissed her daughter goodbye had been rolling on the ground in agony during the funeral, unable to restrain her sorrow. They too, slipped off the face of the earth without warning.

 This could be us.

 This could be me.

 Tonight. Tomorrow. Right now. It doesn't matter. Death doesn't run by rules and regulations. It has no boundaries and borders and freaking standard procedures to follow. It only follows God's will - once its been decided, you can bet there is no going back. And God's plans are dynamic and unexpected, strange and miraculous things.

As a child, I myself escaped death in a terrible car accident. Still, I have flashbacks of the moment, the ringing in my ears as the car dove into the ditch, and somersaulted, over and over and over again, only to stop inches away from a huge boulder. However, unlike the less fortunate parties above, we were discovered by police in perfect health and condition - there wasn't a single scratch on us. My parents, who had been secular at the time, realized that God had truly given them a second chance at life.

 I may have escaped once, but will I escape the second time? Perhaps I shall not wake up tonight. Perhaps today is my day. I am neither ill nor am I old nor am I an extreme sports athlete or a junkie. I don't have to be. But I know that if I have to go, I have to go. The most important thing is how you die, and if your life was one worth living. And that, I believe, we must all evaluate within ourselves - before we are evaluated. We are all mortal, there will come a time when we all have to leave. Like one of my characters felt about the shortness of her life, we should all be prepared for the inevitable.

 But I hope and pray that when we do have to go, we depart with peace and satisfaction. Not scared and worried, but fearless and strong, from this world to the next. For death is not really the end.

 It's just the beginning.

The author's comments:
For all those whose lives have walked by me without my knowledge, and for souls I have grasped with my fingertips but never held on.

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