by S. Fenelon, Ireland
With hands outstretched, soft like butter to the touch and with all the tender love and care only a woman knows how to give, there is nothing quite like Death’s embrace. Dressed in time and veiled in grief, she holds your hand all the way, until at last, it’s time to go and she squeezes three times and lets you leave.
But Death was surprised to wake and find hundreds on her doorstep overnight. The world it seemed was crumbling, crumbling beneath her feet. Normally she was patient, considerate, compassionate even, but now she had to rush. It was messy. Time, it seemed, was running out and all she could do now was whisper a meagre “You’ll be alright.” And they would, she told them time and time again, be alright. After all, it’s the hearts of the people left behind that break, not just because they were robbed of time but because some too have been robbed of the closure they need to live. Some grieve without a goodbye, some without a funeral even, worst of all, some grieve alone because a war of our own making still rages outside. Make no mistake, this is war. Our house is on fire. Our home is underwater. Our lungs are black, our bodies blue, and we have arrived, arrived at wits’ end. There may be no bombs this time, no letters home, or 21 gun salutes, but make no mistake this is a war we’re fighting all the same and we are fighting for our lives. It is the lives of our children and grandchildren who depend on us now. For what is a roof over a head or a belly full of food, without a future? There is no time for selfishness anymore, that ship has sailed. If we are to fight for our future, it is now or it is never.
Exhausted, Death looks around for the next in line. She whispers “Don’t be afraid”, only this time to herself . She pleads with Mother Nature as she holds the hand of a child, but there is no time for sides in the game of life, nor time to make deals, even for Death, and so with the child’s hand enveloped, she crosses her to the other side. But before she leaves, before her hand goes slack, she feels three squeezes back. “It’ll be alright” says the child, who has by now passed over, but the wind carries back its whisper “There is still time, don’t be upset. This may be our darkest hour, but the war’s not over yet.”