I’d always had a fascination with death ever since I was a kid. I remember reading a book titled The Children’s Book on Death and Dying. I can’t remember the name of the author. I can’t remember how many times I read the book, either. I remember checking it out of the library at school and reading it over and over again. Friends of mine would read it and I’d ask to read it again when they were done and I’d return it for them when it was due. The parts of the book involving losing a parent, a friend, a relative of some kind, those didn’t bother me. It was the chapter on losing a pet that always made the tears flow. I’d read that chapter if I felt I needed a good cry. I’d skip it if I was in school because I didn’t want to cry in front of my classmates and be seen as weak. No one wants others to think they’re weak. I felt I might die if that’d ever happen.
That book still sticks out in my mind every so often. I wonder if I should go back and read it now that I have experienced death. I’ve experienced the death of a grandfather from Alzheimer’s disease; I’ve experienced the death of an uncle due to pancreatic cancer; I’ve experienced the death of a classmate from colon cancer who was a mere two years older than I am. I’ve even experienced losing someone to gun violence. A clerk at a convenience store I’d made friends with because of my late night trips in there to buy smokes and beers when I was underage was gunned down over some lottery tickets and a few bucks. We weren’t close. We only spoke when I was talking to him while in the store, but that one in particular hit me pretty hard. I think it’s because of the number of times I was in that store at the same time the murder occurred. I could have been buying smokes, beer, any number of things when the boy who walked in decided to rob the place.
The manager heard the gunshots and shut the door to the office to get out of harm’s way. I can’t say that I blame him. I would have done the same thing if I was in his shoes. That would have left me and my friend both out in the open and I could have received the same fate he did. It didn’t take me long to return to the store, which was surprising. I don’t know why it didn’t bother me like it did some of the others who were frequent patrons of that gas station. I guess my morbid curiosity overshadowed my fear and paranoia. Although I’d lost a friend I still wondered what exactly happened that night. Where did my friend fall? What were his last words? What was going through his mind? These are the thoughts that run through my head when I think about death.
I think about what people would have wanted; how they would have wanted to have been remembered. I think about my grandfather’s funeral and how it was nothing like he spelled out in his last will and testament which I found after the fact. My mom and her sisters almost argued about everything concerning the funeral. My mom wanted to respect her father’s wishes. Her sisters seemed to want to make a show out of something that was supposed to be personal and meaningful to the family. My grandfather didn’t want flowers, but my aunts insisted on flowers. My grandfather wanted to be cremated, but my sisters insisted on a burial. I bring up my own funeral preparations so often because I don’t want that happening with me.
I don’t want to be buried. I want a cremation. I want some of my ashes to go into a vial for my friend Lauren to wear as she has requested. The rest of them can be scattered around the family property in Chattahoochee Hills. I don’t want a funeral. Funerals are too somber and crying is not very becoming of people. No, I don’t want a funeral. I want a wake. I want people to remember me for the weirdo that I was. Tell stories, exaggerate stories, embellish about me if you’d like. I just want you to have fun and remember me and think of me there having fun with you. I jokingly said that I want something on my urn. I know exactly what I want as well. It’s a Richard Pryor quote. People who know me might be surprised that I don’t want Bill Hicks, but I think for this occasion Richard Pryor would be funnier. “Waiting on 11:30” would be perfect. If you don’t know the reference then just try YouTube “Richard Pryor 11:30.” I’ll forever be waiting on 11:30 and that next party that’s about to go down. Remember me at every party you throw because I’ll be there to have some drinks with you, to smoke a bowl or a joint with you; to tell jokes, to rehash old stories over and over again and laugh like they all happened just yesterday.
I’ve thought about death a lot recently. I’m 32 and I’m not getting any younger. I’ve accomplished nothing it seems because I’ve always been too timid to try new things. I’m afraid I’ll fail. On the other hand however I want to be remembered somehow. I admire many people who have passed: Bill Hicks, George Carlin, Kirkegaard, Twain, many authors I’ve read and entertainers I’ve enjoyed whether it be music, movies, or television. They’re all going to be remembered and their legacies will live on forever. I want a legacy of my own, but how do I go about that? If someone has an answer then I’d like to hear it.
I fear leaving my loved ones behind. My mom has had to deal with my dad’s suicide 15 years ago. Just two years ago she experienced another loss when her boyfriend of eight years passed due to health issues. I have physical and mental health issues that I’m sure are going to lead me to an early grave, which terrifies me when I think about one of the two causing me to leave my mom behind. I fear losing my mom, being lost in a world with the one constant in my life. My sister and I get along, but we’re not as close as I’d like to be. I don’t know if we ever will be. We’re two completely opposite people.
My friends are the other constants in my life. I’m talking about those I know online and off. They’ve been there for me through hardships and good times. The stories we could tell strangers who gave us the courtesy of listening. I think about missing out on more stories when I’m gone. As much as you matter to people, once you’re gone there’s a bit of mourning, but the world continues to turn. Everything is over for you, but they return to their daily lives and if you’re lucky they remember you and smile because at some point in time you gave them joy.
So when I heard the news of a rogue planet on a collision course with earth I breathed a sigh of relief. There was going to be no pain. Suffering was not going to exist. In a matter of days all life on earth is going to cease to exist. This isn’t a movie where we can send astronauts to space to try to drill a hole and plant a bomb deep within this planet. The planet itself is twice the size of Jupiter so there’s nothing to do but enjoy life while we have it. A little less than two days is what we have to say our goodbyes, try to get in touch with those we long lost touch with, and embrace the inevitable. I embraced it as soon as I heard the news. Goodbye, cruel world. I turned off my television, lied down in bed, lit a joint, and laughed. This is how the world ends. A world full of 7 billion people who thought they were invincible will be ash and space dust in a matter of hours.
It’s better if we all die simultaneously. There will be no heartbreak. No one is going to mourn the loss of a parent, a friend, a child. We can have ourselves a going away party. I plan for us to take whatever we have out of our cabinets and freezers and cook the biggest feast we’ve ever cooked. I plan for us to drink to our heart’s content and load up on drugs we never dreamed of trying before. This is the end for us and it’s well deserved. Strap in people. It may get a little rocky, but we’re going to be fine.