Fearing death. Fearing thinking about death.

outside a window in Brooklyn

Not here. I thought.

I brushed the dried up fly that had been hovering around my fruit the night before, out the window of kitchen. And that’s when it happened. The thoughts. How easy it is to to kill a fly. What could be more delicate — if it mistakenly flutters under our shoes or placing a a dish ontop of it outside in the summer, it’s a quick slap of our hands together, really. I picture it between my two fingers and it’s a quick and subtle move, it’s too easy. That’s when it happened, I started to think about death and I got scared. I looked outside the same window… The sky always seems to look pissed when I’m thinking about death.

It’s the not really quite knowing thing — I know that’s what it is. I remember the first time it happened when I was a teenager. I was in the house I grew up in. I slept in my old wicker bed that creaked every time I turned to either side. Suddenly my eyes were open, maybe the sound of kids flying down the hill in their bikes woke me, I scanned the room, the light outside of the window crept in, I could see well enough to see the details all around me. The painting that was just crooked enough to give my room character, I like things a little “off” sometimes.

I don’t know what started it, but, I couldn’t get the thought of someone not being alive, or me not being alive out, of my mind. I couldn’t grasp how that’s a possibility. I put my hand on my heart and felt it beat so my hand would move up and down just slightly enough to remind me I am still here. Then, it fluttered faster and faster as my thoughts went wild. The only way that kind of fear escapes me is when I get up and start moving around frantically, tidying things up and sorting through stuff and thinking of the ocean and all the beautiful things I can twist my mind into thinking about. That night, I ran into my parents bedroom. I saw their sheets moving just slightly with their breath, up and down, up and down. My dog Tucker on the blue chair in the corner of the room, his left ear hovering over his right eye. Peacefulness.

the sun rising in the sky

You know, those snippets of memories — where you remember exactly how you felt about something. If I ever want to, I can close my eyes. See it and feel it. It really doesn’t take much to remember how it feels when I think about not being alive, because death is so, so real. Still I think of it, as unfortunately real.

When someone dies, there is a place in the heart that will never be filled. When you think about yourself not here, it means you have stopped fulfilling yourself and your dreams and the things you still want to do. Maybe it’s just scary because the non-existance part. Are we just dust then? The thought of not feeling… Might be the scariest one of all.

I’m writing this in hopes that someone that reads this has some kind of process they go through when it comes to accepting things that have to happen in our lives. I’m hoping that by recognizing that death is okay will, in turn, make me understand and entwine myself in everything that happens before the end. Thinking of it as a natural, maybe bizarre, but peaceful experience, would make it not so emotionally scarring… I would think.

forest trees polaroid

Saying goodbye, breaking up, those things almost seem impossible at times. Finalities are hard, aren’t they? How grateful I would be to think of it as leaving the sunshine to the flowers, leaving the kids to scraped knees, the lovers to hold hands, the noises that echo and bounce off of the trees; that all will be okay in the end.

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[photos by NICK CEGLIA]