What Is Death?

In sixth grade, I wrote a poem entitled, “I don’t want to die, but I’m not afraid of dying.” There was another about having life flash before one’s eyes before the end. Another about seeing a loved one pass. I thought a lot about death – what it is, what it could be, what power it really holds.

I haven’t thought much about death recently. I’ve been too busy contemplating the mysteries of life. Now, I’m beginning to wander into the realm of the end. No, I don’t want to die – not in the next eighty years, at least. My mind has only broken into another layer of wonder. What really is death? What lies in the beyond?

I simply cannot imagine what it would be like to stop existing. I can close my eyes and cover my ears, but I am still conscious. Death robs consciousness. There is nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. A complete lack of sensation and thought rattles me. However, heaven doesn’t make sense either. Where is it? At the edge of the universe? Does the universe even have an edge? Eternity and infinite space is simply incomprehensible. There is an end to everything, I think. But yet, there isn’t. Will the world ever end forever? There will be still be time, though. Time all by itself, without shape or life. Does the universe stretch forever on and on? I cannot imagine an end, nor can I imagine the lack of one.

What about hell? Where does that exist, if it does? Hell entails eternal pain, but one man’s pain would not faze another. Is the pain individualized? Is it static, or do the punishments change and rotate? Does hell expand to fit more damned souls? Where do the bodies go anyway? Do we keep them? Will we have bodies at all?

Death holds the keys to love. One of my favorite song lyrics says, “Love is watching someone die, so who’s gonna watch you die?” It makes me wonder what will happen to me eighty years from now. Will I even know the people who watch me breathe my last, the people who feel the warmth of life depart from me? I hope I am old, peaceful, and surrounded by loved ones. That’s what most people want, but not all get it. For all I know, I could be hit by a car and killed instantly tomorrow morning on my way to school. Some people get the short straw like that. In fact, some of the most undeserving people feast themselves on a long life, while noble people are condemned to brutality and torture. Children, innocent children, are murdered, while their killers roam free and live out their days. Why? Why do death and life work like that?

I don’t have the answers to close to half of these questions, but really, the joy is in the journey to those answers. It wouldn’t be any fun to know all of it at once, would it?

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