I was lucky enough to be able to visit my Gramma today, though I am guessing it will be the last time. Sad though it was, I could tell it made her happy to know we were all there, and we all got to say a few words to each other. Some of what she said got me thinking about how we perceive Death and based on that I decided to write a short story that (loosely) coincides with the drawing I did recently. I hope soon you will rest easy and fly high, Gram. I love you. ❤
Metamorphosis: A Story of Life and Death by Rose J. Fairchild
Come with me, Sweet Child.” A whisper, soft and warm. “The time has come for you to go, and end this suffering.”
I raise my eyes and expect to see a skeletal vision, knowing Death has come for me. But my eyes are met with beauty–a woman bathed in white and silver, her dark hair laced with stars.
“Are you Death?”
I realize I’ve only thought this as I am too weak to speak. She surprises me by replying.
She smiles kindly, dipping her head in assent. “In a manner of speaking. I am the spark that will fuel your metamorphosis. The husk you occupy now is just the chrysalis, but soon you will have wings and be free to fly high as you wish.”
Her eyes–a lovely shade of turquoise–shine with the sunlight peeking through my curtains. It seems ages since I was able to feel a breeze playing in my hair, or the warm sun pouring over my thirsty skin. I miss it–terribly. Like I miss so many other things about living, because that’s not what this is right now. I’m trapped in a torturous limbo, watching the world pass by at breakneck speed as I wither away and wait.
And yet, to leave my family has been my biggest obstacle. I know it will hurt them to have to say goodbye, and I dread that moment.
I look at the raven-haired beauty awaiting my reply.
“But my family–I don’t want to hurt them.”
She places a hand on my shoulder, her voice a bit louder and warm with understanding. “That’s part of Life. There are many joys and sorrows, ups and downs, births and deaths. But Life…she can be cruel.” She sighs, “And yet everyone is afraid of me. But the truth is, once you’ve wrung every bit of joy you can from Life, I am the after. I cause no pain–I take it away. And I lift you up, away to a place where agony is barely a memory. You will live on in the hearts of your loved ones, just as they will live on, waiting for the day you meet again.”
Death leans close to me, her voice returning to a whisper. “You have nothing to fear, my Sweet. Just take my hand and follow me. All will be well for you soon.”
She removes her hand from my shoulder and places it palm up on the bed next to me. I look around one more time and a single tear rolls down my cheek as I take her hand.
Everything melts away as I sit up and climb out of bed. I am naked (which I find I don’t mind), but whole. Everything is where it should be and nothing hurts. I breathe and the air is sweet as it passes unimpeded through my lungs.
The world around me shines brighter than it ever has before, and I can’t suppress a laugh as I watch my great grandchildren playing nearby. They are surrounded by a glow so sweet and bright it almost hurts, and they are the most beautiful things I have ever seen. So much life to live. So much potential. I wish them as little pain as possible in Life.
I jump as something brushes my back and am surprised to see huge red-gold feathered wings have sprouted from my shoulders. They glow like a slow-burning fire and my breath catches.
Death chuckles, “Yes. They are yours now.”
I stretch them and find she has night-black wings of her own as she lifts them skyward. Awkwardly, I lift mine, too, and flap them a few times. The children–often the most sensitive–feel the breeze and look around. One of them actually looks at us, his mouth dropping open in surprise.
He shrieks, “Mommy! Great Grandma has wings!!” and everyone comes rushing toward me. My granddaughter’s hand goes to her mouth and though I know what I will see, I turn to gaze at the body lying on my old bed.
“That’s not me,” I say as I see the broken thing I left behind.
Death gives my hand a squeeze and says, “No, it’s not. This is how you are meant to be, and now you are.”
I pull my hand from Death’s and go to everyone individually, dropping one last kiss on each of their heads. And though a couple of them touch the spot as if they’ve felt something, most have no idea I’ve done it.
Death says, “Are you ready?”
I turn, give my great grandson a wave that he returns and say, “I’m ready,” as I grab her outstretched hand once more.
We raise our wings together, and as she helps lift me up, my wings grab the air and take flight.
For the first time, I am truly free.