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Death, Friendship, and Love

By Michael Reisig

Over 150,000 people die every day on this spinning ball of dirt and water, while most of us cruise along, oblivious to this fatal lottery, as we should. We’re only reminded of this game of chance when someone close to us draws a number.

Death arrived at a friend of mine’s door this week – in all his black-robed, sullen, charcoaled colors, and all the prayers and admonitions couldn’t persuade him from taking his prize.

When death had gone, he left the room without air – he had taken the voices of the angels, and all those who were closest to his choice were left with pain and emptiness, and plagued with all the useless, irrelevant thoughts of, “What if I could have?” “Should I have?” “If I had only…” all wrapped in a collage of grief, confusion, and anger, which is so much a part of death.

My friend was a person of deep thought, he was careful in his choice of words and capable in his actions, and there was a kind and vulnerable part of him that few actually knew. He tried to hide it but I saw it. He fought this adversary, death, courageously, with sword and shield as it crawled tenaciously over the bulwarks of his castle walls. He fell back, rallied and reformed, and gathered his defenses again and again. He never surrendered. It had to take him by force. And even at the very end, I was proud of him, because he never gave up.

Death has no prejudice, it’s an equal opportunity event. No one can stop it regardless of money, position, or power, and there is nothing else but love that evokes such emotion. I realize that it’s a necessary process, but it’s just so damned inconvenient at times.

I think I would remind all of those who cared about my friend, that death just ends life, it doesn’t end a relationship. To tell you the truth, I don’t think death changes friendship or love one iota, and this is one the greatest strengths of mankind. I’m reminded of a line or two in one of Terry Pratchett’s novels –

“And what would humans be without love?”

“Rare,” said Death.

My friend isn’t gone, lost to some unreachable, mysterious void. He’s just on the other side of a wafer-thin veil, and he’s free from all the pain and fear now. I’ll give him a little time to catch his breath and get used to his new accommodations, then I’m quite certain he’ll be back around to check in on me, and I’ll be free to talk to him anytime I want (and sense his presence, as I have with others who have made that simple transition). I’m quite convinced that friendship and love are silken cords that extend well beyond these frail earthly accommodations we’re given.

I’ll leave you all with a line by the incomparable Kahlil Gibran;

“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”

Dance, my friend…

The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ownership and staff of The Polk County Pulse. Michael Reisig is a freelance writer and published author whose works are reproduced throughout the globe.