I’m afraid of death.
I’m not scared of encountering it, letting it seep into my bones and allowing myself to wither away – slowly, gradually or maybe forgotten the next day.
I’m afraid of what it brings. I cower in fear at the steady, deadly, invisible mist that dances atop bodies and wipes off smiles and glee. Just. like. that. Snap your fingers.
I don’t go to funerals, I recoil at the thought of seeing corpses laden in fresh white cotton sheets being taken away. Something in the faces of those who had just seen death take someone out of their midst scares me. Frightens me.
I was 12. The ominous sound of my mother crying in the living room woke me up from my blissful slumber.
My grandfather was dead.
I wrapped my bony arms around my mother’s rocking frame and tried to say something but what could I say? Everything is going to be okay? Because nothing was okay and It sure as hell would never be the same. I never said anything because I was afraid I could never find the right words, instead, I was pretty sure, a hysterical giggle would slip out as I saw my aunt, blinded by tears, topple over some woman’s feet and land in a heap on the floor.
When they took my grandfather away, we were all promised one last look at his cold withdrawn face but I didn’t go. I was 12 then and I’m 12 now. I followed the same route for the death of each of my parent’s parents, my class fellow from school, my good friend’s mother, my aunt and maybe some forgotten folks along the way.
My friends berating me over my apathetic reaction to the death of our friend’s mother was justified. While they all sat there with her, maybe even hold her hand, as they tried to console her; I was busy locked away in my room, running the tip of my tongue over my chapped lips, thinking of calling her to express my condolences. Or not. I had no words and my biggest fear was what if she picked up my call and I had to talk to her? Would she hear this: Uhh…So…I heard…and I’m so-s0-sorry….Um.
Probably. But I was sorry, I was. Every single time. Even when she messaged me to accuse me of being the world’s biggest witch of never calling or meeting her.
But how can I tell her? I was scared shitless. I floundered and gasped for words but my mouth, in all its dryness, would never form them. I can never be one of those who know how to comfort someone, with their mouth full of words that I can never quite get how to steal.
But I am sorry. I want nothing more to touch things that won’t break and coo soothing words in your ear. Without stuttering, without fumbling. Without fail.