IT TAKES THE SADNESS OF LIFE TO APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY OF DEATH
This Story Is Dedicated To My Grandfather Elmer. Who Took His Own Life.
Many wonder why some commit suicide. Perhaps this story will help explain the reason.
His best friend had been dead for about a month. When the phone rang. Midnight. Cold in the house and me dragged up from sleep to answer the call. His wife was gone for the weekend. Me, alone in the house, and the phone ringing, better answer it. It might be important. . . “Hello”
“Who is this?”
“You know me. It’s Elmer. . . Your best friend.”
Cold. Deep and intense. The receiver dead-cold matter in my hand.
“Elmer died four weeks ago.”
“Four weeks, three days, two hours, and twenty-seven minutes ago–to be exact.”
“I want to know who you are?”
A chuckle. The same dry chuckle I’d heard so many times.
“C’mon ole buddy–after twenty years. Hell, you know me.”
“This is a dammed poor joke!”
“No joke, Jason. You’re there alive. And I’m here dead. And you know something, old buddy . . . I’m really glad I did it.”
“Did. . . what?”
“Killed myself. Because. . . death is just what I hoped it would be. No sadness or disappointment, or worries. Absolutely beautiful, peaceful, quiet, content, complete, and where I belong. . . no pressures. “Death is a paradise without tears or suffering.”
“Elmer’s death was ruled an accident. . . A concrete freeway barrier. . . His car–“
“I aimed my car for that barrier,” the phone voice told me. “pedal to the floor. Doing over ninety when I hit. . . No accident, Jason.” The voice cold. . . Cold. ” I wanted to be dead. And no regrets.”
I tried to laugh, make light of this madness–matching his chuckle with my own. “Dead men don’t use telephones.”
“I’m not really using the phone, not in a physical sense. It’s just that I chose to contact you this way. You might say it’s a matter of ‘psychic electricity.’ As a detached spirit, I’m able to align my cosmic vibrations to match the vibrations of this power line. Simple, really.”
“Sure a snap. Nothing to it.”
“Naturally, you’re skeptical. I expected you to be. But. . . listen carefully to me, Jason.”
And I listened–with the phone gripped in my hand in that cold night house–as the voice told me things that only Elmer could know. . . Intimate details of shared experiences extending back through two decades. And when he’d finished, I was certain of one thing:
He was my best friend, Elmer.
“But how. . . I still don’t. . .”
“Think of this phone as a ‘medium’–a line of force through which I can bridge the gap between us.” The dry chuckle again. “Hell, you gotta admit it beats holding hands around a table in the dark–yet the principle is the same.”
I’d been standing by my desk, transfixed by the voice. Now I moved behind the desk, and sat down, trying to absorb this dark miracle. My muscles were wire-taut, my fingers cramped about the black receiver. I dragged in a slow breath, the night dampness of the room pressing at me.
“All right. . . I don’t. . . Believe in ghosts, don’t. . . Pretend to understand any of this, but. . . I’ll accept it. I must accept it.”
“I’m glad, Jason– because it’s important that we talk.” A long moment of hesitation. Then the voice, lower now, softer. “I know how bad things have been for you.”
“What do you mean?”
“I just know how things are going for you. And. . . I want to help. As your friend, I want you to know that I understand.”
“Well. . . I’m really not. . .”
“You’ve been feeling bad, haven’t you? Kind of ‘down’, right?”
“Yeah. . . A little, I guess.”
“And I don’t blame you. You’ve got reasons. Lots of reasons. For one, it has been what? About two years since you lost your son to a car accident right after his graduation, right? I know the both of you were close.”
Jason’s heart sank, thinking back to all the good times he and his son shared together. The first time he taught his son how to play catch football. When his son made his first touchdown in High School. When he taught his son how to drive. When he bought his son his very own car and the smile on his face.
His friend Elmer went on. . .
“There’s your money problem, you are behind on your house payments”
“I’m expecting a raise. My boss promised me one–within the next few weeks.”
“You won’t get it, Jason. I know. He’s lying to you. Right now, at this moment, he’s looking for another to replace you at the company. Your Boss is planning to fire you.”
“He never liked me. . . We never got along from the day I walked into that office.”
“And your wife. . . All the arguments you’ve been having with her lately. . . It’s a pattern, Jason. Your marriage is all over. Your wife is going to ask you for a divorce. She’s in love with another man.”
“Who, damn it? What’s his name?”
“You don’t know him. Wouldn’t change things if you did. She met him in an Internet chat room. There’s nothing you can do about it now. She just. . . Doesn’t love you anymore. These things happen to people.”
“We’ve been. . . Drifting apart for the last year–but I didn’t know why. I had no idea that she. . .”
“And then there’s your daughter. She’s back on it, Jason. Only it’s worse now. A lot worse, She has also been selling off her body to any man that would give her money and the attention that you couldn’t give her.
I knew what he meant–and the coldness raked along my body. She was sixteen now–and she’d been into drugs for the past three years. But she promised to quit.
“What do you know about my little princess? Tell me!, Please!” “She’s into the heavy stuff, Jason. She’s hooked bad. It’s too late for her.”
“What the hell are you saying?”
“I’m saying she’s lost to you. . . She’s rejected you, and there’s no reaching her. She hates you. . . Blames you for everything.”
Jason knew it was true. It all began when he found out that his daughter had been molested at a young age. But the fact of knowing that he was powerless, that there was nothing he could have done to protect her, agonized his conscience
“But I tried to do my best for her!” He screamed into the phone.
“It wasn’t enough, Jason. We both know that. You’ll never see her again.”
The blackness was welling within me, a choking wave through my body.
“Listen to me, old buddy. Things are going to get worse, not better. I know. I went through my own kind of hell when I was alive.”
“I’ll. . . start over. . . Leave the city–go and work with my brother at his business.
“Your brother doesn’t want you in his life. You’d be an intruder. . . An alien. He never writes or calls you, does he?”
“No, but that doesn’t mean–“
“Not even a card last Christmas. No letters or calls. He doesn’t want you with him, Jason, He thinks you’re a joke. Believe me.”
And then he began to tell me other things. . . He began to talk about middle age and how it was too late now to make any kind of new beginning. . . He told me that soon I would go to see a doctor about being tired all the time and be told that I have cancer and would eventually die anyway.
“Do you really want to die a slow, painful death, Jason? To slowly be crippled by cancer, to slowly waste away into nothingness?” He spoke of disease. . . Loneliness and disappointment. . . Of rejection and despair. Of pain and suffering. And worst of all, sadness. And the blackness was complete, soothing, warm, A blanket that brings both peace and happiness to your soul.
“There’s only one real solution to the curse of life, Jason–just one. That gun you keep in your desk upstairs. Use it, Jason. Use the gun.”
“I couldn’t do that.”
“But why not? What other choice have you got? The solution is there. Go upstairs and use the gun. No one will miss you. You are already dead in the minds of those you thought loved you. Didn’t you once tell me you wish you were never born? What have you ever amounted to in your sad existence? There is more sadness than happiness in life. How many tears does it take for you to realize that death is the only solution to the pain? Life creates scars that only death can heal. Eventually, your memory will become nothingness in the winds of time. I’ll be waiting for you afterward. You won’t be alone anymore Jason. It’ll be like the old days. . . we’ll be together. . . I know you’re scared. But death is beautiful, Jason. I know life is ugly and painful, and hurtful. But the …beauty of death is its gift to end our tears. Use the gun, Jason. . .the gun. . . use the gun. . . the gun. . . the gun. . .”
It was at that moment that he realized that the worse thing about life was not death, It’s what we lose as we live.
Jason began to cry. There was only one thing left to do
Unable to cope with the amount of loss he suffered throughout his life. Jason decided to close his eyes for the final time.
When his wife came back home, she screamed in horror to find Jason dead in the chair. A shotgun blast blew off his face and splattered his brain on the ceiling and walls.
I’ve been dead for a week now, and my buddy Elmer was right. It’s fine here. No sadness, no worries, or suffering. None of the daily stress of having to make a living because I’m no longer alive. Not in a physical form per say. Quiet and beautiful. Peaceful, everlasting tranquility. . . “I know how bad things have been going for you. And they won’t get any better.”
Isn’t that your phone ringing?
Better answer it.
It’s important that we talk.
THE FEAR OF DEATH DISAPPEARS WHEN ONE HAS REACHED THEIR LIMIT OF SUFFERING.
DR. JACK KEVORKIAN.
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