It doesn’t matter how much you work out. It doesn’t matter how right you eat. It doesn’t matter how much surgery you get. It don’t matter at all because you still gon’ die.
Rev. Theodus Drake
Death, particularly my own, is something I’ve never spent much time thinking about. Not since my great-grandmother and I had a heart to heart about it when I was about five or six. She informed me that we were all going to die. Her, me, my great-grandfather, my mother, my dog, everybody, but it was nothing to be afraid of because we’d all be together in the next life in glory with Jesus. I told her, with the definitive certainty only children have, that all of them could go and die if they wanted to but I wouldn’t be joining them. No, I’d rather stay where I was than go through all the weeping and wailing that seemed to happen whenever somebody went on to that metaphysical glory Grandmother told me about. Death wasn’t worth it to me if that was what I had to do to get there. Like I said a child’s certainty.
Living life though has killed that certainty because I’ve seen a fair share of people I’ve personally known die and came close to joining them myself a few times as well. A second grade classmate, Travis Neal, ran down by a hit and run driver walking home from school on a Thursday right after the school year had started. The cancer that killed my Uncle Jack last year after his mother, my Grandma Fields, and Uncle Jerry, his closest brother, went on to glory before him. A friend from the sixth grade, Eric McCacheren, shot and killed when a gun he and his crew were playing with blew a hole through his chest. My boy, James Moore, who drowned when the plane he was flying, dropped out of the sky into a South Carolina lake. He was enough of a pilot to save himself and everybody else from the crash but died because he didn’t know how to swim. I think there’s some irony in that but I’m screwed if I know what it is. My own brushes with the Reaper over the years from bleeding ulcers, out of control cars on rain-slicked roads, and gun-toting jealous exes with cuckolded husbands. Many other names and instances I can rattle off let me know that I’m mortal and that I and everyone else I know will truly die one day.
The strange thing is that the knowledge of my mortality doesn’t scare me even if I live in a society that tries to put off death for as long as possible. That doesn’t mean I’m some kind of fearless daredevil who goes around looking for a premature end but I look at death as something that’s going to happen anyway so I accept it for what it is and try to keep moving. I’ve learned enough to know that it is something we all walk with every day and it is only capricious fate that allows us to see the next day.
Even though I’ve accepted that I only have a limited time on earth I’m not blasé about death though because I still mourn and miss the people I’ve lost throughout my life just as much as I worry about any tragedies befalling the friends and family I still have especially my younger relatives like my little cousins, my nieces and nephews, and my son. I want them all to have a full measure of this life before it’s time for them to leave here like I’ve had. Love, heartbreak, success, failure, doubt, and certainty. All of that and more is something to experience, to anticipate but not to fear. Many people I’ve known cheated themselves out of the juicier parts of living because they were too scared to take the road less traveled. I can’t be too hard on them though since there have been many times in my own life when I couldn’t even be bothered to walk out the door some days because I didn’t think I had the strength to deal with what was on the other side of it. Some of those days I would have even welcomed the Reaper if he had been out there waiting for me.
That’s all a part of this existence though. The ups and the downs of just living it is what spices up the mundane with some flavor because I know I don’t want my time here to be as tasteless as unsalted grits. When my time comes I want Death to come for me like I’m Conan with a broadsword in my hand facing off a horde of bloodthirsty Picts. I want to face the Reaper with Life’s blood dripping from my lips because I ripped its throat apart and sucked the marrow from its bones. I’m going to rage, I’m going to righteously rage because I want Death to come for me when I have more things I want to do while I walk this reality. I want to battle him to let him know I’m not done with this world because I have more books to write, more places to travel, more time to share with my child, more things I want to experience and if Death is going to take me before I do all that then it’s going to be the damnedest fight because I’m not going down easy.
Rage, rage, rage against that dying light.
Death came for Richard one night but he wasn’t ready to go just yet. To play for time, Richard offered Death some of that good dank he was saving for special occasions. Death had some time before the next appointment in his book so he partook of the weed with Richard and went smooth to sleep. The quick thinking Richard got his hands on Death’s appointment book and switched his name from the top of the list to the bottom. Death woke up soon afterwards and let Richard know that since he’d done him such a solid by sharing that good kush with him that he would do him one in return and start from the bottom of his list.
–Jason O. Logan