Death is coming for me. I can feel her in the curtain folds when I wake in the morning. She’s behind the old sycamore trees at the dog park where I take Matilda for our evening walks. Death wears a yellow sundress with a white, wide-brimmed hat. Well, at least that is what my death wears.
I know she’s giving me time. And, she should. After all we’ve been through, after all these years, after the dozens, maybe even hundreds, of passings I’ve helped her with. I’ve earned it. I’ve earned the right to have time to get my affairs in order. I’ve earned a peaceful death; a good death.
Death waits for no man, isn’t that the saying? It’s such a lie. Truly, it is. The only reason you think it doesn’t wait for you is because you don’t know how long she truly has been waiting. The moment you take your first breath, her wait begins. She keeps track of you. Your clock is right on the shelf with everyone else’s clock. I’ve seen where she keeps them; the sound is deafening. It would make a normal person go insane. But not Death.
When you get to know Death, after a few passings, she may ask you to call her June. She told me she picked the name June because it’s the start of summer. It’s when life is at full blossom, the flowers erupting and green grass growing and the slough of winter shaken off. I suppose Death likes the irony. But, don’t call her June unless she asks; she can have a wicked temper.
Death is different for every person. The first person—no, let’s not chat about that one right now. I don’t know you that well and that one, well, that one’s personal. The second passing I did, Death was an old, shaggy dog. Mortimer, I think that’s what his name was, adored that dog. God, he must have been close to ninety. I remember that guy still had a full head of thick, white hair. Gentle man. He knew his time was up, even smiled when he saw me come into the room with the dog. In between his labored breathing, he whispered, “I wondered when I would see you again, old friend.” And then he stooped over, petted Death on the head, and his body slumped to the floor. His was a peaceful death.
There have been very few passings that were bad, at least for me. I think Death did the hard ones on her own. She knew I wasn’t probably the best companion for those. Or maybe she had to become something she didn’t want me to see. I don’t know. She doesn’t talk about it too much. For as friendly as the two of us have become, there’s still a lot I don’t know about her.
I asked Death to tell me when I was going to die not long after we became acquainted. She laughed at me. She promised to let me know when it was close, which is why I feel her now as an almost constant companion. She outright refused to tell me when or where or why. “It’ll change who you are, Gracie,” she told me. I suppose I can see how it would have.
My life has been a good one. I’ve had close to eighty years now. I had hoped I’d make it longer but my body is not what it once was. The hip replacement last year really took away my energy. Death did tell me that I could choose who gets to pass through with me. I’ve got to hand off this…job, is that what it is? Is it a blessing? It’s most certainly not a curse. Sometimes it’s a chore. Whatever it is, I can no longer pass with people. Someone else gets this honor. I’ve thought of my granddaughter but fear her delicate soul couldn’t take the stresses. I’m still pondering that question.
Mostly though, helping people pass has removed my fear of dying. I know there’s something on the other side. I’ve already made more than a few friends that are waiting for me so my usual gregariousness won’t be wasted. Death and I have our standing cribbage date on Tuesdays (although, from how she explains it, Tuesdays don’t exist over there, if you get my drift).
And I get to see my daughter again. After almost forty years, my heart will be complete once more. These decades with Death have made that hole grow smaller but it was never fully closed. Knowing she will be there, waiting, is an anticipation I have not experienced in years. I feel like a child the night before Christmas morning. I am almost excited for Death to take my hand and guide me.
I can feel Death coming for me. Any day now. It will be a good death.