Do you Fear Death?
originally Published January 2010
After reading Gilgamesh, I asked all of the students to write about their views of Death and Life. You know an assignment that sounds way to complicated for simple homework; thus, they all commune together in the slog of academia. Yet, for me I was almost completely befuddled by this same idea. The question, “how does knowing about death change the way you live,” was just outside of my wheelhouse. Of course two things immediately popped into my mind. A scene of Capt. Davy Jones asking, ” Do you fear Death? Do your burdens lay bare? Do you wish to postpone judgment?” (The kids think it hilarious when I say it out loud in class with my bad Scottish accent.) But of course that got me thinking about death, and I arrived at another movie moment, Capt. Kirk after the death of Spock. “I haven’t faced death. I’ve cheated death. I’ve tricked my way out of death and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity. I know nothing.” I have never really had to deal with death. So few people I have known have died. Then I had something to write about, the first time I went to a funeral.
I was 14 and a freshman in high school. Popeye, which was what we called her, had passed away. She was the mother of a family friend and had been around when I was younger.Till this day there is very little I remember about her. I remember her short silver hair and the lace shawls that seemed to be the same as the table doilies. I remember eating the caramel cubes from her coffee table when no one was looking, but what struck me as odd at her funeral, was the fact that she didn’t look like herself. Those rosy red checks were shallow and ashen. Her smile had too much lipstick and her hair was like broom bristles, instead of light and wispy. She truly looked devoid of life and simply lost, somehow out-of-place in the room of talkative family.
She was death. A complete absence of the life I had once known, was now gone. I would say that Popeye’s funeral scared me. Not the fact that she had died but the idea that one day I would be on display with no control over who saw me or how I looked. That moment would be the end of my life and people would have to choose how to remember me. Caramels or Coffins, which would be the reminder of my existence? I do not fear death for it is only the beginning of my judgment and simply the beginning of a new adventure. But the questions are overwhelming. Will I have done enough good to have changed the world? Will the people I loved, embrace me in death of relinquish me to the here after with spite? Every time I see the deck hands in front of Davy Jones I wonder what would be my answer. Would vanity push me to stay in this world to do more good for others or for myself?