The Day I Understood


I had a dream one night;
A dark shadow was crouching over someone I loved;
trying to take her soul away.
In silence it crept; red were its eyes.
“No!” I shouted, “You can’t take her yet!”
It turned its head to me, listening.
It had a skull of a vulture; white and cold and dead.
It stood tall and dark; crooked shoulders that looked dangerous,
with long, thin human fingers, hovering on the ground.
“Please,” I begged, “Just take me instead,”
And I cried because I loved her so much more than my own self.
It opened its beak and croaked, “It is not your time yet.”
But at the moment, I didn’t mind and I didn’t care.

Fast forward and the creature took me instead.
So we flew away into the cold night,
searching for another soul to take.
And it said to me, “Pick anyone for me,”
“Why me?”
“So you can understand.”
I was trembling, because those words were colder than the night.
“Someone who’s old and wouldn’t mind dying,” I whispered.
Deep down in my heart, I prayed, for I had sinned pointing my fingers to others.
It looked at me curiously. “You are different.”
“How so?”
“Others might pick people who they think to be bad, people who they think have sinned the most.”
A lone tear rolled down my cheek. “Who am I to judge?”
So we took an old man in his death bed;
his family was crying when the soul left its body.
I didn’t know whether he’d been good or bad in his life; I thought regardless of how you’d been doing in your life, there would always be someone crying for you in the end.
And so we spent the night, and many other nights, sucking life from people and collecting souls.

One day I asked, “Are you God?”
It shook its head. “We don’t give it a name.”
“Then what are you?”
“How do you see me?”
I hesitated for a moment, “A dark shadow with a vulture’s head and a human’s body.”
“Every human visualizes me differently.”
A moment passed.
“Am I good, or bad?”
And because I was scared, I only said, “I don’t know.”
“I am the thief of souls; I am the one who enters without knocking. Many have welcomed me with joy, and many have tried to hide and cheat me. In the end, I always succeed, not because I want to win, but because it is just how things work.”
It was the longest sentence it had ever spoken to me, and then it repeated, “Am I good, or bad?”
Once again, I replied, “I don’t know.”
We both stood in silence for a while.
“Where do you take them?”
“You will know when it’s time.”

Fast forward again and we spent some more nights spreading sadness through the world, not to the departed ones, but to those who were left.
Until one day, we came to an old teacher of mine – whom I respected so much.
Thus I cried, since he was old and happy and didn’t mind dying because he had lived his life to the fullest.
He passed all the criteria I had given to Death – but I loved him and I didn’t want him to die.
So then I cried once more, but I didn’t beg because I couldn’t take my own words.
He would die and I wouldn’t do anything to prevent it because that’s just how life worked.
“It has to be done,” its voice was calm and dead.
Somebody had to die, and if it was not the person in front of me, it would be someone else, who was as much loved by other people as I loved my old teacher here.
I closed my eyes, remembering all those people we had taken from their family and friends, and how evil I was, causing so much sorrow to people I didn’t even know.
Every night had been full of fear because I kept asking, “Who’s next?” and wishing it wouldn’t be someone I knew.
But tonight, the joke was on me, once again – and for the first time in my life, I understood why they said that ignorance was a bliss.
“I don’t want to know,” I cried, “I don’t want to know anymore…”
I wept and sobbed until I ran out of tears, and to my surprise, Death waited for me patiently.
“Now you understand,” Death told me gently.
I was drowned in grief I didn’t move.
“People die because they live. Everything that lives has to die eventually. Some earlier, some later, but it doesn’t change the fact that life is worth it, does it?”
“Then why me?” I was so angry I didn’t care it was Death I was talking to.
“Because you questioned death. And answers will be given to those who dare to ask, and are brave enough to face the answers to their questions.”

And that was when I finally understood,
that even if it was true that there were some things in life we couldn’t control, such as death and pain and sorrow,
but we didn’t have to let them control our fear and love and hope,
because all those things were only temporary (well, except for death), but so was human life,
thus it was always up to us to seize the days – we gotta do all the best things we could to make it worth the while;
and had we looked closer and wisely,
it would be obvious that despite all the bad things that might happen in our life,
there would always be something that’s precious enough to fight for.


P.S. this was based on a dream on a regular night, with a touch of imagination and sentimentality from my curious mind. The image of the “Death” was inspired by a character drawn by artist Chiara Bautista.

P.P.S. I sometimes have weird dreams, such as one of my other post, “A Suicidal Note”. I hope you enjoy reading my twisted posts! 🙂

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