Kyle and the Deathly Deadly Hallows
Death is not something I give a lot of serious thought to. I’d imagine a lot of us don’t until those dire times in our lives when the Grim Reaper rears his ugly head and comes at us on a personal level. Sadly, I had a instance like this just this last week with the passing of my grandmother(from here on lovingly referred to as “Nan-naw”). She was 84 years old, an age I can’t even begin to imagine being alive at and hope I get the opportunity to enjoy. She was a wonderful woman, and responsible for a lot of what makes my younger brother and I who we are. She endured and loved us even though we were not the most…reserved children. But she always had us pegged pretty well. Telling people we weren’t mean kids, just ornery. Which I think is still an accurate description of us today. She was also a lot of fun. AND funny. Mostly because she had to be. She was the matriarch of a family jam packed with smart asses where if you aren’t being made fun of, you aren’t loved. Ultimately, she’s one of those rare people in your life that you’ll miss forever. And I truly will.
But let’s get back to the broader subject at hand: Death.Like I said, I’ve never been one to dwell or think on death much in my lifetime. This could be for a number of reasons, maybe its because my family was never particularly religious. So, I’ve never held a strong belief in the rewards of a well lived life. Don’t get me wrong, I hope it’s true. I like to think that somewhere out in the ether my loved ones will be waiting for me to join them and we can have one hell of a kegger. And to be perfectly honest, if there is an afterlife I pray that God looks like Buliwyf (pronounced Bullvine) from “13th Warrior” and Heaven is some version of Valhalla.
Fightin. Drinkin. Smokin. Storytellin. Babes.
Yea.That’d be nice.
I mean, I hope its not some place like a church basement rec room where there’s just a decrepit Foosball table, a stack of Youth Picture Bibles, and a game of Ker’plunk from 1989 that’s missing most of those red, plastic sticks for the 50 kids there. There needs to be shit to do besides looking down on their still living relatives. My deceased family members don’t need to know how frequently I masturbate or drunkenly take pisses in public. I’d imagine they can already guess it’s a lot. The specifics would shake them to their ghostly cores.
The real reason I don’t think about death? It fucking terrifies me. From a very early age, I had a vivid grasp on the finality of death. I have memories of my mother rocking me to sleep as I cried because I didn’t want to die. I’ve never thought of it as robe wearing, winged people welcoming me through the Pearly Gates. To me, it was kind of always nothing. Don’t get wrong, I’ve been to church camps in the Midwest. I tried. But it never clicked for me (This may be the first time I’ve ever committed that to writing). In a weird way, the idea of there being nothing beyond this can be comforting. I mean, so far as I know, I was nothing before I was born and it didn’t seem to bother me much. I guess being nothing after won’t be so bad either. Who knows, maybe as I get near the end I’ll see it as a welcome release to a long and labored life. One can only hope.
But as young man, having only made a few strides into my own life, my viewpoint on death is less than romantic. At a time in my life where the world is seemingly wide open to me and my whole life could change in a day, the end all of death is a real kick in the ass when you have to face it. It’s unfair really, when you think about it. If you’re lucky enough to live a long and healthy life, your reward is watching every single person you loved and knew your whole life die. Replaced by later generations of people and a world that every day are becoming more and more unfamiliar. And that you find increasingly harder to understand and connect with on a personal level.
Depressed yet? I am. Maybe this is a dark way to look at things but let’s not pretend like this isn’t at least in some part, the harsh truth of things. Here’s the thing though, no matter what you believe I don’t think any of us can deny this: Everything and everyone has their time. A small window in time and space where they fit perfectly (or maybe not so perfectly) and if they do things right, they make a difference in their own way. The scales can vary. Some will change the world. Some will change lives. And some will waste it. I guess in the end, maybe what really scares me about death isn’t the darkness or the nothingness of it. It’s wasted time. God forbid any of us reach the end of our days on Earth and think to ourselves “Fuck my face. I really dicked this whole thing up.” I can’t imagine anything would be more unnerving than a parent looking their child in the eye as they are on their deathbed and pleading with God to let them stay. I don’t want to be that man.
My point is this. When eye to eye with death, all you can do is hope that you come out the other side having learned something about yourself. Or if anything, become a person more focused. Because it’s ugly. And Earth shatteringly sad. But if you’re with the right people, in some wierd way it can be uplifting. My Nan-naw’s life was her family. Her kids. Her grandkids. Her great grandkids. And I don’t think anyone would say that she wasn’t successful in shaping all of us into better people. I shudder to think they type of person I would have been without her. She made a difference. On her own terms. On her own scale. In her own way. In the time and space she was given to do so.
And we should all be so lucky.