It was the day of very last things.
A well-dressed man approaching the street squinted against a morning sun that offered brightness, but not warmth. He knew that today, his old adversary, Death, would collect 150,600 souls and no one would notice. Just like every other day. More or less.
If a tsunami took them all at once, it would be a tragedy. People would question the existence of God. Let an attractive White woman be murdered and she’s she is a celebrity. Someone else dies of colon cancer and nobody cares. George Able held the proper, unsentimental perspective on death. Everybody dies one at a time and in the dark, and that was all. The rest is just selling the news.You know, he's onto something. Every day we make plans, and gamble that we will not be one of the unlucky 150,600. Dad was an insurance salesman. Some of my earliest memories are of the posters in his office, the words of which I would amuse myself trying to pick out while he wrote reports. "You put your shoes on this morning, but who will take them off tonight?" Today, one or two inappropriate responses come to mind, but the innocent child understood.
With the passing of my older brother, it has struck me that I am in the on-deck circle of life. As I was approaching my 60th birthday anyway, I was already getting the feeling that at some point, no matter how I have reinvented myself - indeed changed my very species - there was no denying things were winding down.
I remember once reading of an upcoming execution. I knew that an autopsy would be performed. What anyone hoped to find that they did not already know I never understood, but that is not what jarred. The strange thing was that the pathologist - I knew him well, of course - had asked his secretary to schedule an autopsy for a healthy man who was still alive. If there are things one just does not do, scheduling autopsies in advance has to be near the top of the list.
We have a rendezvous with death, you and I. Our autopsies, so to speak, are already written on the secretary's calendar. Maybe many years from now; maybe we shall not see the morning. The Church, unless I am wrong, used to speak of this. Catholics used to be encouraged to contemplate their own deaths, the brevity of life. I could dilate on that thought, but will hasten to my conclusion.
I do not fear death much, but I do fear pain and I do fear fear. Especially that fear of inevitability, that now it is really happening. I expect I'll be burning a pinch to the merciful god Roxanol if I have a chance. What I really fear is judgment. I am just not sure about the new soccer-program-theology of everyone getting an an award just for participating.
I wish everybody lived a long time and went to heaven. I know the first is not true, and have grave reservations about the second. And I hate it that I'm nearly always right.