“…Does dying scare you? Should it?…”
“Does dying scare you?”
“Not really the dying part. It’s what comes after. The fact that we leave all this behind terrifies me. What about you?”
“Not so much anymore. You realize that when you die, you leave a body that rots and is buried somewhere. It’s just a body.”
“But what happens to you you?”
“Your soul goes somewhere. I don’t know. Coz I’m not sure if the people who died BC are waiting for the world to end for Judgement Day or something…”
* * *
Late night. The atmosphere is crisp. I’m sprawled on the couch, remote control in hand – which for some reason makes it sound exotic – , my fingers reflexively scrolling through the channels booking the lineup of shows I sit down to before calling in at those ungodly hours. My daily dose of The Amazing World of Gumball stands by on the playlist. These are my times: me time. My phone goes on to vibrate an arm’s reach away. I shoot a glance just in time to glimpse its content before the screen dims off. New message received, it reads. Oh, that’s nice. Safaricom remembered. I manage a feigned smile. It’s not Safaricom… maybe next time Bob. It turns out to be a close friend picking up on a conversation with a question that, in all honesty, catches me off guard. Does dying scare you? My instinctive reply being a guy would be something as banal and coy as I make death wish it were never born, or better yet having sensed uncharted territory, stream off to some shaggy dog story featuring some of my intrepid largely non-existent feats, which would really be saying no in any other language. No, I am not afraid. In virtue though, I choose to be honest with my guts and reply a yes. I am. Terrified. Diabolically even. It’s not until you stop to think about what next that you realise no one really knows. Apart from the Apostle John’s anecdote of The Revelation, an intricate description of The Apocalypse that raves behind the ticking hands of a timepiece unbeknownst to all, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy that describes the poet’s descent to Hell, through the purgatory and final ascent to Heaven and John Milton’s Paradise Lost to name a few, we have a wandering imagination as our last resort to the answers we seek trying to wrap our minds around how it all ends. Coupled with the fact, rather realization, that the existence we know as life where simple minor tasks such as taking showers to driving to work to presenting ideas before boards to going back home for some wine and dine, all before our eyelids marrying in slumber at sundown could completely cease in a heartbeat, or lack thereof, is terrifying. And with such uncertainty we hold on to whatever faiths we subscribe to for a good night’s sleep. Which begs the question, does dying scare you? Should it?
I look up at the ticking hands on the timepiece I do have access to, strapped around my wrist. A quarter past midnight, it reads. It’s been quite some time since immersing myself into my thoughts. But with good cause, I console myself. Most people don’t think about what follows until they’re all wrinkly with cheeks sagging all the way down to their knees, and even then they don’t believe it. Here I am, young, dumb and broke as hell – if hell is – slouched in front of a screen trying not give a hoot but in reality giving all hoots possible about the hereafter. Maybe afterwards I might look into how mortgages work right before heading off to the local elderly home to catch up on my Bingo. This is not something I should be mulling over right now. I try to shrug the thought off. My show is about to start. A few laughs to steal before bed, I think to myself. A familiar jingle graces my mental space offering an ephemeral reprieve from the stirring brouhaha of overthought that was until now slowly building up. My show is starting. It runs through its usual four ten-minute splits before ending with the same tune. One of the few shows that keep me in touch with my childhood… I wonder what he would say if he saw what I did with his life. Oh well! I switch off the once glaring screen and lights to follow, slip in between my beddings and rest my head on an unnecessarily puffed pillow. My watch rests on a cupboard to the right. An OK time to sleep, if not too early going by norm. I close my eyes. Goodnight Father.
Twenty minutes in and my eyelids seem adamantly opposed to the idea of forced matrimony. What with that question still looming. I opt to give it the time of day amid the engulfing darkness of night. Might as well; you never know about tomorrow. It might come with its own unheralded questions…and it probably will. So I will myself to drift, promising myself one more minute on it. One more.
As sure as death, it is said. So we know our story has to end somewhere. When the last breath escapes your lungs and your body finally gives in, you leave all you’ve ever known to a world you’ve only ever read or heard lores about. The body you once occupied during your stint on earth finds its way to a morgue to a cloaking of formalin before its fate is decided. Most are honoured with proper burials six feet beneath the ground they walked on, from whence we all came. Others by their wishes are cremated and their ashen selves set free to roam the world they left behind within the currents of the breeze, to venture with it wherever it may. Their memories last while they live on in a parallel reality awaiting the Day of Judgement, I’d want to believe. Sentenced to a slumber they get to wake up from only by the blare of Trumpets portending the Messiah’s Second Coming. It is written the rested faithful shall arise and ascend, as the living faithful are Raptured into the clouds to meet the Saviour and be ushered into His Father’s dwelling of aureate mansions and pavements, floated by an aura of song. But beyond the judgement after the lives we led have merited our fate, Heaven with crossed fingers we hope, the wonder haunts. This life we’ve grown so attached to ceases to exist. Friends and family might have it differently before the Deity’s judgement, in either one’s favour. Then comes eternal life either way. Milk and honey or fire and brimstone. I prefer the former. Living for the invite is what harbors the challenge. I’m guessing we’ll never really know until it comes to pass. After all, all we’ve ever come to know has been inspired by a past, right? Maybe it’s best to live now and brood later. Stay in our lane. For all we know the future might be up ahead by the side of the road sticking out a lol sign. As far as cheeks stretch, we have a ton of years left. They can do without being beat up over what we were never meant to know now. We could try praying. For the best. At least until the future masks off.
I look around through the darkness at the shadows cast upon the wall by the moonlit sky. Serene at best. Unruffled. A few laboured turns later and I’m staring into the incandescent face of my wrist watch set atop the bedside cupboard, its luminous hands showing a little past the 2:50AM mark. The ungodly hours. I sigh. I whisper The Grace before shutting my eyes a final time. Because I figure I’ll need it. We’ll all need it. The Grace, the Love, and the Fellowship…to be with us, now, and forevermore. Goodnight, God. For real now.