Well I’ve done it now I thought to myself as I stood there, watching my body fall to the floor in slow motion. The gun falling from my now lifeless hand, brain matter, blood, and bone flying through the air. People screaming, vomiting, the horror on my friends faces. Yeah, I’ve done it alright. I sat down and watched the scene play out, the tears, the fear, the sadness. Watched as the police and the paramedics showed up and took my body away. I watched it all, and all it did was make me feel lonely, and sad, but that wasn’t new, that’s how I’ve felt for a long time. So, I sat there waiting, watching as eventually it was all cleaned up and everyone left. I sat and I waited, and just as I was starting to wonder why I was waiting it showed up.
Death had arrived, and I realized that it is what I had been waiting for. A skeleton in a harvester’s cloak with a scythe, it seemed so cliché. Oddly enough, it was shorter than me, but I didn’t have long to think on this. It beckoned me with a finger. Wordless I stood and started to follow. I knew I’d have to face whatever was to come, and I was ready to face judgment. I figured I was screwed, but who’s to know. I don’t think anyone has been to this point and returned with any knowledge of it. All we’ve ever had was guesses and superstition. I almost wished I could haunt my atheist friends, just for a moment. It would be funny to see the look on their faces, when faced with something they didn’t believe in. It would be funny I’m sure, but now was not the time for levity. Now was the time to face my fate.
As I followed behind the specter the world around me, which was moving in slow motion, began to shift and change. I started to see scenes from my past, moment of happiness, fun, sadness, and pain. The kind of moments that had tormented me, and kept me from sleep on many nights. There was no order, just a random collection, as if my life had been put on shuffle. I wondered if this was part of my punishment, if I was being led to Hell. Judgment already passed, no chance to defend myself, only eternal torment. I thought about running, but to where? All around me swirled memories of things I cherished, things I was ashamed of, things I had forgotten, and things I had often wished to forget.
There was no going back. It was a tunnel of my life, and I could see nothing but darkness behind me. There was no light ahead, only a swirling grayness out of which my life’s memories seemed to spring and wash past me like waves. Am I even walking, I wondered? The only constant was that of Death before me, leading the way. I hadn’t been afraid, but I was starting to be. I thought I could face doing what I had done, but I knew I shouldn’t have. Then everything stopped, and all was darkness. It wasn’t exactly quiet, there was a wind… or was there? Death had vanished, at least I couldn’t see it anymore, and the wind… There were voices in the wind, crying, weeping, lamenting.
.It was too much. This was hell. I am trapped in Hell! Trapped in complete darkness with voices tormenting me for the rest of eternity. I wanted to scream, but perhaps I wasn’t capable anymore. As the panic seemed to be overwhelming me, I realized I recognized one of the voices and then another. I slowly realized I recognized them all…, they where my parents, my brothers and sister, my few friends, and more. More than I thought would ever care. In life I would have not believed half of them capable of caring about me even in the slightest, but here the curtain was pulled, every one crying out in sadness, and pain was real. A pain that I had caused them, there was no denying it. Imagines suddenly appeared I saw a friend, one of my few real ones. Aged a few years. I watch him step off a ledge, and I knew I cause it. Another, self-destructing their life with drugs, again my fault.
I saw all the pain, that my selfish act had or would cause others. I was unable to look away, unable to hide from what my actions had or would cause. It was thrown at me, but I realized there was no malice to it. There was no sense of an accusation, it was simply the fact of what I had done, and what it would cause. I calmed a bit, and the scenes continued. I realized they were not meant as a punishment, but as a clarity. I was being shown the full scope of what I had done, as there started to be positive images. The friend who had already been to the edge. Who now realized what it would do to others, swearing to themselves not to cause anyone else that kind of pain. The young man I knew who was taking every drug he could find and slowly falling apart, getting cleaned up and meeting the love of his life.
The images slowed and finally stopped, and I was left again in utter darkness. There was no wind, there was no sound, but there was also no more pain, or loneliness. I had been shown I was loved, even though I doubted it in life, that people cared. I was shown what I had done, the ramifications of my actions. All of my guilt melted away. I felt forgiven, I felt loved, I felt…
A young boy wakes, and finds himself in a hospital bed. “What happened…?” he asks his voices shaking, it seems weird and weak in his confusion. His mother, grandmother, and another woman are standing at the foot of his bed. “Oh! Thank God you’re awake!” his mom cries. The boy asks again “What happened? Why am I here?” His mother and grandmother, hold hands as they explain to him that he had been in an accident, his head had been hurt very badly, and they feared he might never wake up. The boy accepted this, but something was wrong, different. He could not put his finger on it, but something had changed.
These troubled thoughts would continue to haunt him over the years as he grew up. He felt increasingly more and more of an outsider. Like he didn’t belong, like no one understood him. As if he was on a different wavelength than everyone else. The harder he tried to fit in, the worse it became, and the more he felt overwhelmed, lost, and alone. When it reached the point of being unbearable, he started staring into the mirror with a razor to his wrist, or slowing down and looking over the edge anytime he was more than three stories up. There came a night in mid-winter shortly after his 15th birthday that he was on a scouting trip in the middle of nowhere scout camp in New England.
Another boy, who was picked on had managed to get up to the roof of the scouts reserves main office. The boy was four stories high, and screaming about how much life was unfair. He knew he was in charge, so he worked his way up there with two of the other older boys, and he talked the other boy down. He said all the things your supposed to, the words sounding hollow and empty as he did. He hated himself for lying, as he saw it, but he was able to talk the other boy off the ledge. He sent him on the way with the older boys, to go to the mess hall. He waited, watched, and after they had walked away and were out of sight, he stepped up onto that ledge.
It was cold, and he wasn’t wearing a coat, but he barely felt the cold. There was nothing but him and the ground. If I aim head first it will all be over, he thought. It seemed so simple. A swift end. No one would find him for hours. He could be rid of this pain, his hurt, his loneliness. At that moment it started to snow. Not a light flurry, but heavy flakes. The wind seemed to die and the soft hiss of falling snow enveloped him. It made him smile, but it was a sad smile. He loved the sound of falling snow, the hush that fell over the world at night as it fell. It was one of the few things he would miss.
He thought turned to his mom, dad, younger brothers, and older sister. What will happen to them? He wondered. The scope of what he was planning fell on him. He thought of his friend who seemed to be falling apart as much as he was, how would he handle it. He thought of all the people who seemed not to care, but probably did, even if not the way he wanted. The whole while staring at the ground. No through it, through himself, and into his own personal abyss. And just like that, he decided. Stepping backwards, he got off the ledge. He made a promise to himself that night as He walked back to the mess hall. While he sat and joked with the other boys at dinner. He swore to himself. Never again, I will never let myself get to this point again.
He wouldn’t tell anyone about it for years, and when he finally did, he would be told that “This is too depressing to hear.”, or “I can’t handle it”, or “Why are you telling me this?” No one realizing that he was trying to heal himself, that life had become difficult again, and his will was starting to shake. As he traveled in and out of yet another dark part of his life. He held onto his promise to himself, he didn’t know why it was so important, but he knew it was. As life went on and his reasons for living dwindled, he did his best to refocus to hold onto the promise. The only promise he had swore to himself, the one he would always keep. Never again, I will never let myself be back there again…