I’ve had death on the mind a lot lately, at least when writing. It could have something to do with the fact that I’m working on a murder mystery, or I could just be, at the base of it all, a morbid person. I’m cool with it, either way.
This is the…let’s say Prologue of a story I’ve been thinking about. I believe it will just be a short story, or a novella – something with broad spaces between the paragraphs, written as this is in a very casual way, like the narrator is just jotting down things as they pop into her head.
I could have written a fantastic memoir.
Daring adventures enacted on the streets of romantic cities: portaging ’round Venice, parkour throughout Paris.
Leaving my family behind to build wells in Indonesia, only to fall in love with a hut in the mountains and decide to stay forever.
Skydiving onto the top of Mount Everest and climbing down, unassisted, to set the record for fastest descent, and finally, publishing all my top-of-the-world photographs as a best-selling calendar that reprints each year for a decade.
Unfortunately, I can’t write about my harrowing escapades undertaking any of these wonderful journeys. Primarily, because none of them ever happened. Secondarily, because none of them ever will.
Did I mention I’m kinda dead?
It might have slipped my mind.
That seems to happen a lot these days. Little details I’m so sure I’ve written down, or spoken aloud. It turns out I wasn’t able to find a pen, or I never even thought them at all.
Bitterness really doesn’t begin to cover it. Am I a bit put out that my friends are probably having a grand old time on the African safari I was too broke to buy into?
Am I maybe a little irked by the fact that the good ones really were perpetually taken for years until the one that wasn’t showed up just days before my untimely demise?
You could say that.
But honestly, mostly, I’m pissed.
I’m pissed that my life ended as I was still waiting around for it to start.
I’m bloody angry that the things I said I’d do “tomorrow”, “next year”, “when I have time” all instantly became things I’ll “never get around to” once fate and karma and good, old-fashioned bad luck began fiddling around in my business.
I’ve had to face facts. Actually, I’ve been confronted by facts, much the way an unsuspecting doe is confronted by the approaching headlights of a semi truck. And I came out of it about as unscathed as the big-eyed subject of my metaphor.
These facts came in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Some of them were little, piddling facts it’s no surprise I missed. Like the fact that I probably should have cleaned up under my bed more regularly. I pity the well-meaning family member who set out to clean that space when they were packing up my things and putting my condo on the market. Upon their kneeling and peering beneath, I imagine shrieks generally reserved for fist-sized spiders. Shock-induced loss of follicle pigmentation is a definite possibility.
There were medium facts; ones I really couldn’t be blamed for overlooking due to busyness or general carelessness. Like the fact that you meet new people by actually leaving the house some evenings, not by staying home playing American McGee’s Alice on an old desktop that runs so loud, it sounds like it’s about to blast off.
And then there were the big facts. Details I ought to have figured out for myself, given that I was an adult woman of moderate maturity, arguably sound mind, and decent financial acuity. Like the fact that I could have called my mom back the day after our big-ish fight involving stupid things like Father’s Day gifts and whether or not my little brother was likely to get engaged in the next six months. Or the fact that best friends need comforting after finalizing divorce papers, not scolding on the proven correctness of previous statements involving the sniveling cheater’s kindness and general humanity.
Well, live and learn, they say. Or in my case, kick the bucket and come to realize the vast number of mistakes you’ve made in your relatively short life.
So, yeah. Live to the fullest, and all that. Tell people you love them often. Be supportive and kind, and think about the feelings of others. Clean your room more frequently than the turn of the millennium.
And hey, let’s talk about that for a moment, can we?
I used to think “The End” meant something. Like, the close of a movie, the drop of the curtain, the last breath.
Turns out that’s all a load.
No, once the lights go down, the fat lady sings – so to speak – it’s just the beginning.