Death Struck Around Christmastime


Please tell me I got it all wrong. Please tell me that I misunderstood the message. No. I know that it is right. One sentence from a distant relative at 10 at night:

“Val, your dead has died in the hospital earlier today”.

When I first read it, the world seemed to have stopped, frozen in one moment. My mind froze too, absolute stillness. The air became like a jelly. You cannot breathe jelly. All sounds around disappeared. This moment seemed to last forever. Then something kicked in inside.

Sensations, on a completely new level. Like someone has placed a vacuum cleaner inside you and turned it on max capacity. It’s right in the middle of the chest and it sucks all your insides, greedy for the heart and lungs, not that you can breathe anyway. Then it finds your stomach. You feel sick, like seriously sick, about to throw up. Usually that ‘about to throw up’ sickness is temporary, it comes in ‘waves’ — as if you are on the ship during the storm, or on a ride with rapid ups and downs. Not this time, this sickness is longer-lasting, almost permanent. You really regret eating that dinner, in fact you regret eating anything all you life. The mincer working on your intestines goes well with the vacuum cleaner, they work well in tandem now, one team against your body. One frozen moment that lasts forever. Tears come in bursts. You don’t know what to do. You are powerless, useless, helpless, disgustingly ineffective. You cannot do anything. There is no number to call, there is no service that will help. No one can do anything. Meanwhile, all the gadgets keep working on your insides.

Something else emerges. Fear. Uncontrollable fear. You are scared. I was alone in the house. It was terrifying. The darkness was darker than usual, the silence was creepier than ever.

Death, the most powerful bitch in the world, playing you like a string puppet, marionette, testing your reactions, how far you can go. You are feeling being observed. Being somehow emotionally abused, being laughed at. The inside of you, torn. You are feeling like a child, regardless of being a 21-year-old young woman, living away from home for the past 6 years of your life. You want to call somebody. Anybody. You just need to break that sucking silence. You really want someone to be sorry for you, and you don’t at the same time. A strangest combination. You want to be pitied and you hate the idea at the same time. You try your mum, but her phone is off. Of course, it’s 11 at night, adding the two hour time difference… She always switches off her phone when she goes to bed. Granny? No. Your friends? No, for some reason you cannot, it’s still raw-fresh in your mind, friends would need at least 20% ‘cooked’ information, otherwise they won’t digest it. And you are still afraid to even write that down, saying it aloud will just blow you up. MY DAD IS DEAD.

You scroll your phone book down, and you see a number that you definitely will call, and if you hear back you’ll be happier, instantly. Dad, mobile. Dialling. The call goes through, and so does you hope. Maybe you did really misunderstand? Maybe it’s someone else’s dad, not yours? It has to be a mistake. Call ended, and the next time you try it’s switched off. As is your hope, killed in its cradle.

Dad, work. Dialling. The vicious cycle starts all over again. The call goes through…call ended, phone switched off. Your mind is switched off. You are pure pain.
You are pure pain all night. You can’t sleep. You still cannot do anything, even falling asleep seems like under someone else’s control. Death’s. You are impotent. In the morning you hear the happy voice of your mum on Skype, she cannot wait to see you home for Christmas, all too excited about you coming home. She doesn’t know yet. You are now the messenger. Death messenger at Christmas.

image – Apparent