When Death Came For Me

Via Public Domain Images

When Death came for me, I was looking through old pictures. Old pictures from when people actually printed their photos and pasted them into unwieldy books where they turned yellow from being under plastic and stuck to the paper when you tried to move them.

Of course, I knew Him. It. She. I’d been expecting Them. That didn’t mean I was ready to go, though.
He just appeared in my apartment living room. Well, like a locked door would keep Him out, anyway. I was still in my pajamas, but if that didn’t bother Him (Her, It, They), it didn’t bother me.

Death was like static. Like you hadn’t tuned in right to the radio frequency or like one of those channels on the TV that didn’t work – in the olden days, I mean, when people watched a cathode ray tube.

There wasn’t any noise – just whatever-it-was on top of the body couldn’t settle; it cycled through appearances. If I had to guess, I’d say they were all the different ways all the different cultures saw Finality. Different genders, even different species. Yama, angels, a death bat, the requisite skeleton. There were others I didn’t recognize, including some that might not have been from an Earth culture.

That was interesting but looking at Them was making my eyes hurt. I went back to staring at photos and turning the pages.

“How do you do that?” I asked, keeping my eyes on the photos. Funny to be worried about getting a headache when Death was waiting for you. Patiently, I hoped.

“Do what? The aspects?” Her voice was like a mishmash of a lot of voices, and I could hear under-voices speaking in other languages. Had to concentrate a bit to hear the voice speaking to me.

“No. I mean, you must have to get around a lot,” I said. “How do you manage that?”

“Obviously, there’s more than one bit of me,” It replied. “Though some of me haven’t been used in centuries. Some Death incarnations and Deities don’t have living believers anymore, but they did, so what they believed in still exists. To an extent.”

I grunted and turned another page.

“So,” They said. “Ready to go?”

I snorted. “Is anybody?”

I heard the rustle of fabric as He shrugged. “Some, but it’s not a big deal.”

My eyebrows went up. “How’s that?”

They moved over to one of the chairs and sat down. Not sure if They walked or glided. Hard to tell when my eyes stayed on the photos.

I heard the chair cushion sighing under Death’s weight and more rustling as though He was making Himself comfortable. Weird.

“The process,” It informed me, “takes as long as it needs.”

I risked a quick glance up. The head was still cycling through aspects. I looked away again. “What does that mean?”

“We are between moments, I guess you’d say. In one moment you are alive, in another you are not. We can stay here for as long as it takes you to accept the next moment.”

I leaned back on the sofa and crossed my arms, thinking that over.

“Okay,” I finally said. I patted the cushion next to me. “Would you like to see my photo albums?”

As They got up to move closer, I remembered my manners. “I have tea. Or coffee. Which would you like?”

The End

It Isn’t Just the Body

Getting older | Riza Kazemi | Flickr
Getting Older – Reza Kazemi – Flicker – Creative Commons

I had a bit of a scare the other morning. It turned out to be nothing but it made me think once again about my age.

These days the news seems to be full of those my age or a bit older – especially the icons of my youth – who have died. Those kinds of stories have always been news, but my younger self only clucked over them in an abstracted way because they were not my contemporaries. The older me finds them disturbing in a “you’re moving up in the queue” kind of way.

As I move up in the queue, I no longer have the luxury of eating what I like and being cavalier about the amount of rest and exercise I get. More than that, I now find myself considering new conditions of my body, evaluating new pains to determine whether they are transitory or some harbinger of an oncoming health concern. I’m fortunate that the ailments I have are manageable using current medicine. But not all ailments are that amenable and the longer I’m alive, the more the odds tip in their favour.

Stories about how younger people are refusing their elders’ treasured antiques made me blink. I had not considered this at all and I’m left wondering what will happen to the things I have collected over the years. I don’t even have to consider whether my children or grandchildren will want them or not because I have no descendants. Everything I own will have to someday be sold, given away, or consigned to the trash.

I have already given or thrown away a great deal out of the understanding that no one but me or my late husband could find anything in them. I have tried to keep only what still matters to me; what I find beautiful and uplifting or what – like my dog Rufus’s leash or my dog Buffett’s collar or the pictures of people long gone from my life – I cannot bear to part with, though I know items like these will eventually be disposed of. They will have no sentimental or artistic value to anyone else.

Growing older has also affected my consideration of new things. My decision to acquire is often coloured less by cost than the item’s possible future with me. And I’m mindful of the burden that will fall on whomever is unfortunate enough to have to deal with what’s left of my life once I am dead.

For the present, I will continue to take pleasure in the art I have, the music I have collected, the full set of china I own and use on a daily basis. I will continue to add things I desire because of the way they call to me and I will enjoy them for as long as I can.

I have seen many articles asking “What would your older self tell your younger self if it could?” I’m not sure that my younger self would listen, but I would tell her not to get hung up on the idea of getting older as becoming physically diminished.

Younger people tend to think of advancing age wholly in terms of the body. But aging is really an evolving condition – one that taxes the mind and spirit, too. You will still need to make decisions that affect not only your present but your future. But when you are older, there is less future to consider. And that, in itself, becomes another thing to consider.