Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Death and Life

I practice a very morbid exercise whenever I feel down. I learned the idea from a class in college, even though back then, it had a different purpose. In Social Science, our professor made us write our own epitaph and compose a story of how we are going to die. It's supposed to make us comfortable with the idea of death and dying and how both are linked to life. I sometimes use this activity to make me realize how life can still be beautiful, despite its flaws.

Dia went jogging with her friend one Saturday afternoon. They were both amateur joggers, but the University is open for joggers and bikers of all shapes and sizes everyday especially during the weekend. By some stroke of misfortune, Dia got hit by a speeding pick-up truck driven by a student who just smoked pot in one of the parking lots in the campus. Her friend and some other passers by nervously checked if she was alright; she got bumped crossing a pedestrian lane with the truck coming from the wrong direction. Everybody saw her body bounce from the truck and get thrown to the grassy area beside the pavement. Surprisingly, she got up, smiling and brushing dust off her clothes. There was only a peso-coin sized bump on the right part of her forehead near her temple. Rubbing it and making a vague joke to her friend, Dia continued with her run.

During the week, Dia resumed daily life as usual. There were reports to be finished, calls to be taken, meetings to be scheduled, chores to do for the house, cases to be read for class. She noticed that she almost always seemed to need a nap, but she chalked it up as losing sleep over work and law school. She simply took more coffee to keep her from dozing off. One lunch time, she felt asleep right on her desk, and when she woke up, there was a drop of blood flowing from her right nostril. She had always been sensitive with heat, which gave her frequent nosebleeds. She wiped off the blood, but took a tablet of paracetamol for her splitting headache.

At a recitation for school, Dia felt very embarrassed when she couldn't even find a word for "plaintiff". It was in her head, she explained it to her professor, but she couldn't place the "p" and the "t" and the "f" together in her mind. At least, she was able to complete the case after a few nervous chuckles from her classmates.

That night, Dia shared her "plaintiff" incident with her boyfriend, after they had taken dinner and shower together and are lying together in bed before closing their eyes. He simply laughed and kissed her temple, but she suddenly moved her head away from his lips. There was a bump on the right side of her temple. He gave it a tiny kiss and they both called it a night.

The next morning, Dia never woke up.

The doctor said that the cause of death was brain trauma. It is possible, he said, for Dia to have been only mildly hurt after the accident even after serious brain damage. She might not have even be aware of it.

If I die now, tomorrow, or the next day, there won't be anything left of me. I don't believe in hell or heaven or the giant staircase going up. I simply think it's poof! No more lights! What else is to become of me after death, with my body and being burned up in a crematory and turned to ashes? No more. Nada. Its just a matter of closing my eyes for good, of not breathing and my heart beating to a stop. Period.

Then again. No more nights cuddling with my boyfriend. No more laughs shared with friends. No more green tea ice cream. No more randomly surfing the net, looking at interesting stuff. No more jogging on acacia-lined streets. No more dreams, beaches and the scent of books. All gone when I die. 

Life is not so bad, after all.