I found a prompt yesterday, and it read “You die. As you go up to paradise, you notice it seems to be in ruins. Then you find the corpse of God.” I found in on Pintrest, so I’m not sure who to credit it to, but the concept intrigued me. A lot. So I thought I’d post what came out of this prompt, in the hopes of some constructive criticism, or even your own answers to the prompt. I’d love to read them. Anyways. Here it is.
I thought death would be peaceful. Life had been a chore, a daily fight to live. It’s not as if I wanted to die. I just didn’t want to live any longer, not in that hell. Days upon days of pain, of drugs, of not knowing how things will be mere hours from now, it all creates a cycle of torture in which the only relief is death or life.
I could feel my body giving out. Breath started to get harder to find, minutes blended into hours, until I couldn’t be sure when I was. And they were all there, waiting, watching, mourning already, even though they tried their damndest to make sure I didn’t see. But I did. When you’re stuck in a bed, you can’t help but see.
They let my friends see me one last time. I’m glad they did, but I almost wish they didn’t. We were at the age of invincibility. To see me dying, well, it shattered the illusion of safety and promise they held around their lives. It broke them. I watched it break them.
One of the nurses helped me write my letters. She picked me out beautiful stationary, bought it with her own money, cream paper with a simple metallic navy border on the front. Every lucid moment was spent writing my goodbyes, to my parents, to my friends, to the nurses and teachers I had remembered. The hardest was the one to my brother. He’s only seven. He shouldn’t have to lose me yet.
So, yes, I thought death would be peaceful. That I would just drift away into nothingness. That there would be no pain. But there’s always pain. There’s the pain in blinking, knowing that this might be the last time your eyes open, that the last thing you saw would be your final vision. There’s pain in tears, in the too-tight grasp of a hand in yours. Pain in the way he fought to keep his eyes open, even though it was way past his bedtime, even though it was way past my time.
And then your eyes close one last time. Breathing starts to falter, hitch, fade into a final exhale. You would think that, once the eyes close, that’s it. But I hung on, blind yet feeling, struggling for each pitiful breath, hearing their sobs ripping out their lungs. I wanted to cry out, tell them I was still here, but even a single breath was difficult. And yet I lingered on.
A part of me hoped someone would beckon me into the beyond. That I would see my grandmother, holding out her hand, or my uncle that I barely knew. Maybe an angel, or a figure in white. Death himself, robe and all. A part of me hoped there was nothing, just blackness, a darkness that ate away consciousness, pain.
A final breath caught in my throat and faded, and I did as well. It is almost like floating, the experience, rising from your body as if on a wind. I hovered, watching my mother collapse onto me, my father face the wall, my brother stirring and crying out.
And then the world rushed past me, as if I was sucked through a tube, flashes of my life flickering past. My cat nuzzling my palm, my grandmother cutting off the edge of the cookie dough tube for me to eat, holding my brother for the first time, all pleasant images to whisk me away. And I felt myself crying, trying to reach out to the images, trying to look up and look away. The memories rushed by quicker, time convoluted and images scattered, no rhyme or reason to their organization, until they faded into a pleasant white that grew blinding, until ground was beneath me.
And here I am, standing before the gates of heaven. Though I’m not sure if I want to go in. They’re open, you see, and there’s no one around. They’re resting on a broken hinge. And the welcome desk is covered in blood. I didn’t know angels could bleed.