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a reckoning with death

by eden massey

@edenmmassey on instagram!

Everything dies. I hate that. It’s one of the only facts of life, and I can’t stand it. Your best friend, your next-door neighbor, your favorite artist. Even the invisible people, who leave behind only a whisper, pass on from this life to the next. Watching the tornado of death sweep through, her violent winds ripping the world to shreds, is enough to bring me to my knees. But it’s the truth, simple and plain. Nobody can stop death, not God, not heaven, and not even me.

The inevitable fact of death hit me like a truck. I was freshly thirteen years old, still full of hope and delusions. That year, my grandpa died. The week of his death was the first time I had been to a funeral, the first time I had seen my father cry, and the first time I realized all things must come to an end. Not until I placed the rose on his sinking casket did I cry. And when I say I cried, I mean I sobbed and sobbed until my head ached and my vision blurred. 

Honestly, I barely knew my grandfather. He was in his nineties when I became old enough to care about the stories he had to share. His Alzheimer’s made him incomprehensible and child-like, and I felt no connection towards him. But I hugged him when I went to visit, and I knew his importance. He stood prominent, statuesque in our family, in his church and community. He contradicted himself, always peaceful and angry, loving yet indifferent. Despite his empty eyes, I knew the depth of experience and wisdom that once stirred within them. The stories of my grandpa live on in my father, and in me. That thought calms my fear of the void. 

I feel the blood of those before me coursing in my veins. I am Cuban, Southern, American, and everything in-between. All the people in this world, everyone born before and after me, are connected in a web, strung together by hope and fear and love and death. I am no longer filled with apprehension or terror towards death; only acceptance. The stories of my grandmother and grandfather, my great grandparents whom I’ve never met, reassure me that it’s okay to die. Just as my predecessors did, I will leave behind children and art and stories of this vast earth.

Death is an impending part of life. From the moment we come into this world, it stalks us to the grave. No matter how much we scream, curse the heavens, and beg God above, we will never escape the grasp of death. But this is okay. I’ve learned in my short life that those who leave us are ready to go. They have learned all they can and fought their battles valiantly. So this is where I stand. I still hate death, how it destroys humanity and joy, but I no longer fear it. I simply live my life fully and with passion, and await the day I am called into the wide sky.

a note from the artist-

"I wrote this piece because the thought of death and where we go after we die has been drifting in and out of my brain for the last month. I decided enough was enough, and I put all of my pent-up thoughts into this piece. This piece is pretty dark for me, but I needed an outlet, so here we are."

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