From the first time I looked in his eyes, I saw Death; piercing, penetrating through the sylvan depths. I saw other things though, the usual things that a soul reveals when you know what you’re looking at. Joy, sorrow, hope… most of all though, I saw the brilliance of a short life that will have been lived well.
I will not say that I didn’t hesitate. When Death waits so close to a person that their very soul speaks its name, everyone hesitates; that’s the point when people make the choice, whether they know it or not. They have to decide if letting go of something great is worth more than suffering the death of a loved one.
But man is a creature born in screams and hounded by terror. Too often we make the choice to avoid pain, after all, life is full of it already, why choose more? I didn’t though. I saw Death, I said hello, and then like a scared teenager meeting his date’s father, I politely stepped inside.
“Hi, sir. I’m here to date your child. I promise I’m a good man with pure intentions and I will have her back to you before you notice she’s gone. And yes, I see that shotgun and know that you won’t hesitate to use it to make my life terrible should I break my word, but my word is my bond because… well, because I am a good man. And you can threaten me as much as you want, but sir, I promise I will love your daughter with all my might, and I might bitch and complain when I have to bring her home, ‘cause I know that it won’t be pleasant, but by God, I will honor my word.”
And we did. I threw myself deep down into the depths of a never-ending well. I knew I would fall for the rest of my days, but I didn’t care. I wanted all the time I could get to bask in the radiance of that presence. To embrace and comfort, to share burdens and responsibilities. More than knowing the impending Death, I wanted to be with him.
I know he is gone now.
I hope that he isn’t; that fear has overpowered intuition.
Now I revisit the memories that I have of us. Memories of us being around each other, hanging out, being intimate, relaxing or being active, drinking, drunk, watching television, sleeping and watching each other sleep, waking up together in time for work, or in time to lock the door after the other, dancing, dreaming, talking, whispering, kisses, making out, making love.
I think of holding you, dancing in the kitchen while you sang softly in my ear… Only, it’s the you that’s injured, the you covered in blood that may or may not be yours, the you that I have to let go of. I pull you close, I hold you, I put my lips up to your too-red ears; I tell you that we will always have our memories of each other… I lean into the embrace, bearing your weight, and whisper: