by Solomon Tate
I lost one of my peers a while ago. While vacationing in Mexico with his wife, children and grandchildren, death swooped in as Jack was on his way to a family dinner, and took his life as he collapsed on the hotel room floor. And now, another one was now gone. Another one of my peers had been snatched away to meet his maker. Graham woke in the morning, sat up in bed, clutched his chest, and that was it. There was nothing else. His wife did all she could to save him, performing CPR, calling 911, but it was of no use. He was gone before EMS arrived. Franklin, a writer friend, met a similar fate earlier this year, suffering a massive coronary as he sat at his desk typing. They all must have been aware that death had come for them, and as they futilely tried to cling on to life, if only for a second, the crushing fear of the unknown arrived, leaving them lost and alone in the anguish.
And that is, as I have come to discover, how death works. It does not come with an invitation to a sporting game of chess, but instead creeps up when you least expect it, with hooded cape and scythe in hand. There have been times when I have found myself obsessed with it. Times when I was so afraid of death, that I became too frightened to live my life. And as my friends and colleagues begin to shed their mortal coil, I can’t help but wonder why death can’t arrive peacefully and perhaps just a little more personably.
It would be a lot less unnerving if death arrived as an amiable, elderly man dressed in a pair of jeans and a tie-dyed tee shirt, looking like Bernie Sanders and sounding like Billy Connolly, willing to take his chances on a few hands of winner take all Texas Hold ‘Em or a few rounds of Hungry Hungry Hippo, while I sit at the kitchen table, with aces and marbles shoved up my sleeves, with no qualms about cheating death. Or perhaps we could sit by the television, drinking magic mushroom tea and watching a short film entitled ‘So, What Happens Now?’, directed by Ed Wood and starring The Marx Brothers.
If death is to arrive with maliciousness and malevolence, my friends would have been better off passing away in their sleep, ignorant of its arrival and spared from the fear that hangs heavy at one’s demise. Death is heartlessly cruel and perhaps that is why we spend most of our time here doing anything and everything we can to avoid it. As I question my own mortality, I am pretty sure that I don’t want to know the fear. I don’t want to know when death decides to pay me a visit, and under no circumstances will I be opening the door. I will be peering through the peephole in my front door, completely silent, with the hope that he will simply go away. If not, I can only hope that I am so messed up on peyote that it doesn’t really matter anyway. Given half a chance, I’m sure that Jack, and Graham, and Franklin would have preferred to go out that way as well.