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may the earth receive me

By @italics

So here’s the thing. No one knows what it’s like to die – really die – until those last, crucial moments. It could be an instant, a millisecond, a minute, a week. But when the air is siphoning out of our lungs and we can count on one hand the number of treasured breaths we have left, the breaths we took for granted – well. I couldn’t tell you. I can only imagine.

But to die surrounded by loved ones. There must be fear, right? The fear that you are fading, that you will become a footnote in someone else’s story, that suddenly you’re no longer blazing your own path, that this autonomy is being stolen from you.

It only takes three generations to forget.

That’s bravery, I think. To swallow it all and smile. To tell your family members, your friends, to move on without you, to live as you should. 

I don’t know if I believe in an afterlife. I wish I did. I wish there was solid, tangible proof that our souls all flee somewhere after death, that we can continue some kind of normalcy after this life. And it’s scary, terrifying, to know that one day, one minute, one moment, this will be my reality. That one day I will be fighting to breathe and that I will close my eyes and fade into obscurity.

I know in those moments that I will be cursing myself. Regretting all the decisions I didn’t make, the chances I didn’t take. I will regret this Saturday night, when I stayed in bed for a whole day scouring the internet. Even now, I regret it. Life is made of tiny, fractured moments, and every passing second is a piece of time and memory that we are loath to let go. 

But there will always be regret. There will always be sorrow and anger and frustration and regret – but there will always be hope and happiness and joy and pride. It’s the Pandora conundrum. I’ve always wondered why Pandora opened that box a second time, after unleashing all that plague and anger. She saw a fluttering of white light, a glimpse of wings, and thought **** it and opened it. Why? It was Hope, they say, but there must have been a little lowercase hope in her too, to make her open that box again. We are complex creatures. Pandora was a flawed woman. But she saw that light and hoped, and in the end that is what humans are. We are the scum of the earth, the knives in the dark – but the gods don’t dictate what emotions we unleash. It’s society and we are crippled with doubt but we will always hope.

That was unnecessary, maybe. But I’m not hitting the backspace button. Why would I? One day I will die, and these words will crumble with the husk that is my laptop, or the internet. These words will fade, and no one will remember the life attached to them. It’s depressing, right? But the universe is fair. For every squalling new-born child, there must be a weeping parent in black clothes. For every bit of sunlight, there must be a darkness.

What’s my point? I don’t know. I think that’s it. We don’t know if there is an afterlife, but because we’re humans, we will hope. We don’t know when we will die, if we will collapse into the fine print of history, but because it’s inevitable, we will have to do the bravest thing and smile. We will have to trust in the people we love. We will have to laugh hysterically in dirty diners, hug our parents, dance in the light, because we will never truly know. One could argue that the living is so great, it comes with the price of dying. Because by the laws of the universe, everything must be balanced and if you believe in heaven or hell or nothing at all, this life we have been given is a gift we should savour and treasure because soon our stories will be neatly wrapped in this thing called death and maybe when the time comes, we will be able to smile freely and love without taking and think, truly, I have lived.

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