Staring blankly at the page, I light up my first cigarette. It has been almost a year since I quit. While the pain is crippling me with each passing moment, my face still reflects a smile. I muster up the courage to move forward so that I can release myself; I pour a glass of brandy while he waits. After all, it is only Death that comes to see me. I have seen worse and I have lived to tell it.
The first time we crossed paths was long ago. I was barely 10 years old, but I was given a choice then. We haven't seen each other in a long time since. He disguised himself well, but he scared me all the same. I was too young to understand at the time that he would be my only solace and companion throught it all. And I tested Death daily as I grew older. He would stay close during each of my ventures, prompting me to urge for more. It was when I turned 20 that even he couldn't entertain me. The game was getting old. I was getting old. I wanted Life. But he had other things in store for me.
Desperate and impatient, my new comfort became closets. I was obsessed with them. In the dark crevices of each, I would conceal my dark secrets, my hidden desires, and my blatant disregard for people. I preferred a strong drink, a forbidden drug, or a loud song, with a good conquest to close the closet for the day and a cool dip in the ocean to refresh myself at night. Feelings were not a consideration, nor were they up for discussion. Benefits were my priority. Did I have to care? They were provided with all they requested of me wihtout question. I just played along. Foolish heart to see different, for I was merely a reflection of their imagination.
I never asked for love, I took it. It replenished me. It motivated me, but it never moved me. My heart was never involved. That was never an option. I could not give you something I never had. That ever-beating, lasting impression that exemplifies Life (and Love). I despised it. I was an empty shell that harbored a beating heart, but my heart maintained itself with despair. If you sought me out, don't blame me. I became what you wanted and then I moved on; you should have known better if you thought you could tame me. You should have known better.
That is when Life stepped in. She was beautiful. She was awe-inspiring and she was mine. Before she came to be, anyone could have her. And there would be quite a few who would dared to challenge to own her, but I fled to keep her selfishly for me. Her tiny eyes sought me for security. Her fragile arms held me close during the night. Like a wild animal, I kept her close and I attacked anyone who would come near her. She was the one who brought me back to life.
She was the Life that I needed and it was a rush like I never experienced before. I found myself aching to seek out knowledge so that I can share it with her. I worked to provide an education for myself in her name, to nurture her, and to be her companion forever. It was my selfishness that clouded my Life in the end. It was my heart's turn to be broken. That is where I truly experienced pain. It was displayed through the eyes of another; a Life that I brought into this world had betrayed me.
I created a family in an effort to sustain her. I created another life in order to entertain her. I chained myself in order to secure her, and I sacrificed my very essence in an effort to protect who she became. She left me all the same and she betrayed me. Death found another opportunity to knock on my door. I left the door unlocked this time in order to welcome him. I wanted to know what he had to offer. It turned out that he was never out to kill me. I did a fine job doing that on my own. Rather, he was waiting patiently for that first Life to leave me so that so that I could realize I had a Life all along.
He realized that I was in pain. He knew I was hiding behind medcations. He knew I lost my strength and my resolve, so he came to take me away. I was not afraid of his determination. He has been by my side through it all. I lit up another cigarette as I considered his aggressive decision. He was saving me from myself all along. As I let the last drop of brandy drop from my lips, it become clear to me that Death only meant Life for another. And it was time for the old me to die so that I could move on. Quite the epiphany if I say so myself...
"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep; If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul do take" (recollection of a prayer from childhood)