When I heard your organization was recording testimonies, I knew I had to come. She died in my arms, saying 'I don't want to die.' That is what death is like. It doesn't matter what uniforms the soldiers are wearing. It doesn't matter how good the weapons are. I thought if everyone could see what I saw, we would never have war anymore.
It's true, I am afraid of dying. I am afraid of the world moving forward without me, of my absence going unnoticed, or worse, being some natural force propelling life on. Is it selfish? Am I such a bad person for dreaming of a world that ends when I do? I don't mean the world ending with respect to me, but every set of eyes closing with mine.
Every widow wakes one morning, perhaps after years of pure and unwavering grieving, to realize she slept a good night's sleep, and will be able to eat breakfast, and doesn't hear her husband's ghost all the time, but only some of the time. Her grief is replaced with a useful sadness. Every parent who loses a child finds a way to laugh again. The timbre begins to fade. The edge dulls. The hurt lessens. Every love is carved from loss. Mine was. Yours is. Your great-great-great-grandchildren's will be. But we learn to live in that love.
I thought about all of the things that everyone ever says to each other, and how everyone is going to die, whether it's in a millisecond, or days, or months, or 76.5 years, if you were just born. Everything that's born has to die, which means our lives are like skyscrapers. The smoke rises at different speeds, but they're all on fire, and we're all trapped.
She took the posters downtown that afternoon. She filled a rolling suitcase with them.. She took a stapler. And a box of staples. And hope. I think of those things. The paper, the stapler, the staples, the tape, the hope. It makes me sick. Physical things. Forty years of loving someone becomes staples and hop.