This I Believe

Angie - Long Island City, New York
Entered on December 30, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: carpe diem
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Hope: A Possible Flaw

Everyday, we close our eyes. Yet fear is the last thing we cross, for we know that in the next moment, we will open them, and remain physically present in the world we know to be our life. And because we know there will be a single end, we hope, a hope we feel to be a sure thing yet we all know that there is doubt. For the very next breath can be our last.

“Somebody ought to tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit every minute of every day. Do it, I say, whatever you want to do, do it now.” I can admit, I have a fear of death. I wonder sometimes, before I go to sleep, how that very last moment is. And even though I don’t want to know, or even experience death, I still wonder. I close my eyes but I can hear my heart beat and feel my chest rise, so there is no use to pretending. I just cannot image, in simple terms, being dead.

I had a neighbor, not really an old man, maybe around his 60’s. Every day that I would come from school, I would see him outside. He would always greet me and make sure to tell me: “Hey, you look sharp!” I would smile and leave. “See you tomorrow!” he would tell me and I would be quick to answer “Bet I will!”. Well, that’s when I had a neighbor (an emphasis on the had!)

It was Sunday morning and I was, of course, working in my homework, projects, and studies. It was early about 11 a.m. and usually, I would be sleeping. “You’re up Angie?” my dad says. “Yea dad, homework!”.

“Honey, you know that man, our neighbor?”

“You mean the elderly man dad?”

“Yea. The family next door to him called. He recently had a heart attack at their house. I am afraid he passed away.”

When he said that, I felt my heart drop down to my knees. And man was my heart heavy because I could no longer stand. I can never forget that moment. I wish I could erase it, for every time I think about it, I feel my soul shutter. I constantly think about his nieces, the ones he would talk to me about and how hurt they are. I mean, if I am this petrified of death after this experience, I can only image how timorous they are. And all this builds on the immense fear I have of death.

My very next thoughts were obvious: “What if that were me?” And even though I knew having a heart attack shouldn’t really be a concern for me, I still wondered. I have not achieved anything I can leave this world proud of. I have no regrets, only for the reason I have not lived through anything worth regretting. “I know one day I’ll turn the corner and I won’t be ready for it.” Still, past all this pessimism, I continue to believe there is nothing more valuable than the experience of life, even though what we know to be the end does not give that experience justice. And still, I open and close my eyes….still hoping.