A lot has been said on dealings with Death. Generally speaking, its standard depiction is most often a hooded figure in pursuit or shadow. Sometimes it talks, others merely gestures. I knew Death for a time. The depictions aren’t untrue. She could be cold. But not always. I found her capable of great mercy on many occasions. Death spared countless from continued agony. “It only seems all roses,” I recall her saying.
Relations with her brother, Life, were tense to say the least. He was less pragmatic. Everyone should live forever was his motto. Of course, it was impractical but did not stop him from trying. There were victims screaming from hunger, wounds, diseases that would never heal. Life was the optimist, always intervening. Death came slowly in most cases, if she came at all.
“A greater burden rests on my cloaked shoulders, than he will ever know…” she said one night at dinner. Her delicate fingers ran through pages in her black book of names. I never asked where mine was placed. I could catch it in her eyes from time to time and I knew that she had looked for me.
The last time that I saw her was an August morning. She said that she had work to do. I never asked questions on such things. Somehow, things were different. Her resolve seemed weak; she slightly shook and I knew her destination was far from routine. “You don’t have to go,” I said. “This time, just stay here.”
She smiled. It was obvious her eyes were filled with tears. “We won’t be seeing each other for a while. Read the papers and I think you’ll understand. I can deal with a great many things but I won’t put them on you. Maybe in time the world will forgive me… and you will too.”
The truth was anything but certain as she walked out the door. I recall it as the worst August I had ever had. I was alone and I doubted her. Anger filled my heart. The paper did not help:
Atom Bomb Hits Japan! I blamed myself. I should have talked some sense into her, boarded up the door or held her hostage. Only after many years passed did I come to terms with the reality.
Death could have no friends except the tortured souls that she relieved. The living cannot understand the great significance of death. I tried and failed. I’d try again. But I can only know for sure the day we meet again.