I remember the moment when my brain finally understood what dying meant. It was a scary person dressed in black with a big knife thing that would take me away not just for a day but for forever. I was about six years old, in a hotel room, laying next to my dad crying nonstop. I cried until my little eyes were too tired to keep crying and I finally fell asleep. I remember telling my dad over and over that I didn’t want to die and I didn’t want anybody else to die. It wasn’t fair, it’s scary, and the worst thought of all: where do we go? As I’ve gotten older, death scares me less and less. When I became Christian, it almost ceased to stop scaring me because I knew where it would take me. No more grim reaper but simply an inevitable concept. I find it hilarious that death is defined by people who have never experienced it because they’re alive. How the heck do you define something you’ve never experienced? It’s either a fear, idea, concept or thing they wonder about so the definition is always going to be skewed depending on how they view it.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about death. No, I’m not suicidal, no I don’t want to die, I am simply curious. Everyone talks about making the most of your life and what heaven is going to be like but nobody talks about what death is like. It’s almost a taboo subject in our society. If you mention death, you’re automatically labeled suicidal, goth, emo, weird, creepy, etc. Why can’t I be curious about it? In case you haven’t noticed, I love talking about the things society wants to ignore. I love pushing those buttons because someone has to. Today, I’m pushing the button of death (that sounds awesome) and I’m pushing it hard.
I’ve always been told that death is like traveling down a tunnel to the light. Ah, the infamous light. Don’t go towards the light! Avoid it at all costs! It’s the light at the end of the tunnel which is heaven, purgatory, hell, dirt, whatever you want it to be depending on your beliefs or lack of beliefs. I was always told you’d see your dead relatives and friends waiting for you to join them. Let’s pause right there. How do we know they all went to the same place? Also, seeing my dead friends and relatives? Creepy. How are they going to look? How old will they be? Will they even be recognizable? I don’t want to see them if they’re rotting and deteriorated. I would love to see my loved ones again but maybe the way I remember them so I won’t scream when they try to hug me. Ew. Then there’s the idea that after you die, you sit in a room and watch your whole life. Pause again. No thank you. That is a long movie and I’m gonna fall asleep. I already know what happens! Is it going to be like an FBI interrogation room with a man in a suit, dark sunglasses and ear piece talking to God about how I’m reacting to the story of my life? Will there be a bright light shining in my face the whole time? If I’m going to be sitting here for however many years I lived, I at least want a comfortable couch that I can fall asleep – I mean enjoy the movie on. What’s the point of watching my entire life? Hello, I was there. I’d rather watch the highlights. Or better yet, skip the movie and get to the credits so I can go to heaven. When I was growing up in Taiwan, my Asian grandmother who is Buddhist told me heaven was paved with gold roads and anything you wanted would appear in front of you if you thought about it. If you were tired, you could think of a bed and it would pop up next to you. Hungry? Think of any snack you want. Thirsty? Any drink is available. That sounded pretty great to a five year old. The media often shows stories of ghosts lingering around because of unfinished business. That sounds horrible. I think as humans, we have a lot of unfinished business and that’s just the way life is. I wish every situation we came across could be tied up with a neat bow but that’s not how life works. There are things that are messy and will stay messy until the day we die. The thing I want to do is to reconcile the pain with God and move forward. I don’t want to be stuck here after I die because I didn’t get an apology from the girl in first grade who said I took her marker even though it was on her desk. I would like a one way express ticket to heaven the second I kick the bucket please. I forgive everyone, forgot every debt, please, whatever it takes.
So back to the actual process of dying itself. Do we know when it’s happening? What does it feel like? I’m curious and want to explore it.
My first thought is a picture of a battery draining. You feel it slipping slowly and your soul begins to drift out of your body towards heaven or hell. I don’t think there will be any stuck in between place. I don’t think God would make you wait like that. I think He knows where you’re going even if you don’t. I imagine there will be a lot of fear as you feel your soul detaching. Maybe you scramble to grab it and shove it back in so you can continue to live. Maybe you aren’t scared at all but are watching it detach with hope for the afterlife. Whatever it is, it’s irreversible. Once your body is dying, it’s dying. The shell is fading away and your soul is being set free. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would feel like. An analogy will only go so far. It can capture part of the picture your mind has painted but there’s always that spot that’s impossible to see with your eye because maybe it doesn’t exist. Or maybe it does. It’s like that star in the sky that is there when you don’t look at it but the minute your head turns, it disappears.
My second thought is of pain. Will it hurt? Is it a different pain than if I were to cut my leg on something sharp? Or will it be a blissful pain where I know I’m headed somewhere good? Lately, my depression has been capturing my thoughts and turning it towards suicide. I’m not suicidal in the sense of “Oh I hate my life I want to die ugh”, no, the crying, dramatic way is really not my style. My thoughts have been more along the lines of, “I don’t really feel like existing anymore. I wonder what the most efficient way of turning myself off would be”. It’s funny I think of my existence like an annoying noise in the background that I want to mute. Don’t be alarmed, I do not plan on ending my life but my mind has been wandering to the thought of suicide and trying to find the best way to end it. I know that’s a weird thing to say and kind of contradicts itself but I’ve learned to recognize my depression thoughts versus my own thoughts. I’ve wandered through different ways to commit suicide such as taking pills, cutting, hanging, etc. The pills are a no because the stomach pain that would ensue if I were to fail sounds miserable. Hanging just sounds terrifying. That pain would be awful. I almost applaud those who are brave enough to do it. Of course, I am not congratulating them and my heart breaks for them. The pain that caused them to choose this route is unbearable and my heart breaks more knowing they were at that place. My mind settled down in the seat labeled cutting and then sleeping in a tub. At least that sounds comfortable and warm. But of course, I would have to wear a swimsuit because I don’t want anybody seeing me naked. That just sounds awkward. I know this section may freak many readers out but this is the reality of depression and these are thoughts that actually go through my mind. I can’t speak for everyone else with depression and their thoughts but I can only present my own however terrifying they may seem. It’s my normal. I laugh at how silly my mind is for thinking of wearing a swimsuit but I know others may be calling the police right now to make sure I’m alive. Rest assured, I am okay.
I recently got a tattoo of Peter Pan and the kids behind him flying away. The artist added beautiful sparkles around to give it more of a flare. I looked up quotes from Peter Pan to accompany this tattoo when I think or look at it and two of the quotes stuck out to me. One said, “To die will be an awfully big adventure” and the other “To live will be an awfully big adventure”.
What? I looked back and forth and thought they were basically contradicting each other but I read it again and realized the beauty of these quotes. People live their whole lives terrified of dying and miss out on the beauty that comes with dying. Your time is up and you move on to a beautiful place. Others welcome death and miss out on the beauty of life. You get to use your time however you want. Both are beautiful and both need each other. I realize that everyday I wake up and decide to put death off, I win a battle against depression. Everyday that I walk around and live this grand adventure is a day where I’m a winner. This adventure isn’t so bad when I know that death is the finish line and I get to rest in my Father’s arms.
I guess what I want to say is don’t be afraid to die. But don’t be afraid to live either. I for one am dying to live this grand adventure and do it well.
I don’t really know how to conclude this post but I am satisfied sitting in the middle of life and death and being okay with both. I will probably write more on living and dying in the future but right now I’m choosing to live and continue to do so even if my brain is trying to mute me. I think I’m too loud for my brain to mute though. Well at least I’m interesting. 😉