You stop dead in your tracks. Your body tenses up as your breath fastens. Each contraction of your diaphragm takes you a second closer to the truth, as your eyes dart from left to right at the mention of him. Why can’t you see him?
Your fingers tremble at the thought of him. You fear him. It has been ingrained into our hearts since we were children that he would one day come for us regardless of the circumstance. We learn that each time someone is taken away from us with or without a warning. More often than not, he swatted through families, homes, roads and even buildings. His presence on location was almost unpredictable. We were taught that we should never expect a reason that justified his presence.
Instead, we soothe our discontent with medical jargons written on a piece of laminated paper we name after him, reminding us that the loss of someone we knew is not a dream or a figment of our imagination. The paper stresses its importance of a previous existence that has since expired.
As far as we know, he had no face to his name. Many mistook him for the Grim Reaper, which led to his dismay. He believed he was far more fearful. Powerful. Definitely not someone who existed only in cartoons and children’s books. As much as you hate and dread his presence, there’s a part of you that knows he’s being fair. Fairer than what we humans determined as the truth. Labels had no meanings in his dictionary, social skills had no leverage. He laughed each time he watched each of you make a deal with his arch enemy.
He’d be running his usual rounds, waiting and lurking around. You’d chase fame, fortune, and tick all the unchecked boxes on your to-gain list of tangible items. In return, you turn in the lease for a lifetime ownership of your soul. But eventually, he knows what you choose to deny — that no one can live forever.
The living’s words of condolences bring no comfort, but only serve as a constant reminder and reassurance of what he has touched and taken. Their eyes that stay glued open at you will make your heart feel colder than you ever felt before as you box up your emotions quickly from the prying eyes of the public. Your steps that once cruised through tough times now stay rooted to the ground as tears fall uncontrollably.
You will beg time, even if you know that she wouldn’t be able to reverse or rectify death’s actions. She will feel sorry for you and assure you that she will ease that deep sadness that you feel — and that her medicine is not fast healing but is one that stops pain eventually. Sadly, it does not help you fully forget what has happened because she believes Death’s work has helped us humans understand the true value of a memory. And he was proud when people treasured the pain he gave them, because he knew it turned heads and blew leafs over.
Death follows time closely. He follows her no matter where she goes, despite her constant pleas to walk alone. I screamed for answers through many sleepless nights, desperate for a fast cure, a quick fix or a magical elixir that could help me forget. One night, she whispers to me as I see her tears of guilt fall down her pale cheeks uncontrollably.
“His weakness lies in his conscience and perfectionism; he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he made a mistake. Don’t you see it? I’m an indicator for whose time is or isn’t up.”