My best friend and worst enemy died today of natural causes. She was only 10 years old, but she lived a lifetime. It was her time, perhaps even long past.
Her birth, normally a joyous occasion, was indeed that on the surface. But inside she knew she shouldn’t be here, it wasn’t right. Through her smiles and showers of birdseed, she felt cold and hollow, trapped in a place she didn’t belong. But this was HER she was talking about, and damned if she wouldn’t make it work, create something divine, no matter what the costs. This was the beginning of the realization that even she, this superhuman goddess, was fallible.
The first year, she was able to busy herself with nothing and everything, there was so much to be done, so much change, that the thoughts that would creep into her mind like an infestation of rabid rats would be easily scared off by the bright lights of distraction. Lack of sleep, lack of dreams, or perhaps it was all a dream and that’s what made it bearable. But one day, an awakening, the truth that had hidden itself from all but the deepest dirty corners of her mind came crashing forward. This was wrong, so horribly wrong.
How long did her illness truly fester, gnawing at the marrow of her soul? I think she had one toe in the grave from the start. She tried though, she really did. Trying to live in the shadow of another, greater creature that had become this gauzy imitation of a human being, it was only a matter of time before she required some substance, some life. She had none inside, so she sought it out, hunting the smell of the blood of life everywhere, devouring all in her path. She ate it all, hungry for anything that tasted of trueness, of what she deemed to be the bone and gristle of reality. Taking no prisoners, the fields were soon nearly empty, but the pale replica that she was, was still shining enough to attract more prey, at least temporarily. She farmed these souls, never giving a thought to what the consequences may have been. A few recognized the black hole of her existence and escaped, but not a one without aftereffects, a permanent stain. A few stuck around in spite of the consequences, something she never grasped.
To be truthful, not everything in her life was as dim and grim as it may seem, but it’s all in how you choose to look at it. She lived, she breathed, she even loved the one thing that made her a semblance of a human being, and mostly unselfishly, although at her bleakest even this thing suffered in the wake of her.
Her life has been slowly draining, not even a slow build up of internal clogging. Instead, of late it has been the slow deflation of her soul, like the untying of a balloon instead of the loud pop of a burst one. She knew it was her time, and she tried to say goodbye, but it pained her to know that most of those she needed to talk to had been pushed away at her own doing. In the end, she died alone, alone with myself as witness. I pitied her more than anything, as would you if you knew the half of it.
Coming from the funeral, I was overcome with the realization that she was finally free, this poor child of a self-induced prison was released, her life sentence fulfilled. The tears I shed in the parking lot of a KFC were for her, and for me. What ultimately was the largest sacrifice someone can make, she gave her life for mine. For my rebirth. Welcome home.