Nobody wants to die. Death would mean venturing into the unknown and leaving behind everything and everyone we have grown to know and love. Some of us die as soldiers on a battlefield, while others die peacefully in their sleep. Some have their lives taken away, while others take their own. In the end, we all die. Despite knowing this, seeing those around us here one day and gone the next can cause many emotions to well up inside of us. Things like fear, anger, sorrow and guilt. In my life I have lost people—and animals—that meant the world to me and to whom I will never be able to say goodbye.
My first encounter with death was at the age of six. My family had a charcoal colored mutt named Kato, who had been with me and little brother since birth. I loved to kiss his cold wet nose, and scratch him behind the ears until he would start thumping his foot, even running around in the back yard chasing birds together. I would let him onto my bed at night, even though I wasn't supposed to, and talk to him. I would whisper my secrets into his ear and make him promise never to tell anyone, which of course, he never did. Even after my parents divorced he would curl up next to me as I cried, as if to say "it's all going to be okay, I'm here". He was my best friend.
One day we took Kato to the doctor. The doctor said Kato was very sick and that he wouldn't get better. My mom told me to say goodbye to Kato because he was going to a better place. I hugged and kissed Kato as I cried, telling him how much I loved him over and over, but no matter how many times I said it, it never seemed like enough. Next thing I knew, Kato, my beloved dog and closest friend, was gone. I knew he was dead. I was six, but I wasn't stupid. I was heartbroken and furious but most of all, I felt helpless. I couldn't do anything but watch as he slipped out of my arms and into the abyss of the unknown. I wanted to scream, and cry at the same time. Looking back know, I realize that it would have been cruel and selfish to let him suffer in life rather than find peace in death but no matter how much I tell myself that, the pain is still there. It will always be there.
Many years later, I would encounter another death, but this time it was not a pet. In 7th grade I had a friend who was a sophomore in high school named Kaylee. She was smart, beautiful, and the sweetest person I knew. She was a volunteer at the Humane Society and worked at a homeless shelter. She was my idol. Everything was great until things took a turn for the worst in late November. Kaylee got pregnant. Her boyfriend was a scum bug who ditched her after finding out about the baby, so Kaylee had to tell her parents alone. Her parents were mortified and demanded that Kaylee have an abortion. She cried and pleaded with them to let her keep the baby, but they wouldn't budge. They said it would be "too embarrassing to have other people know our daughter was sleeping around and got knocked up". December 15, her pregnancy was terminated. I went to see her and held her as she sobbed in my arms. I wanted to say "I understand" but I didn't. I could never, nor will I ever, be able understand the pain she went through and how much it tortured her to have lost that baby. I could only watch as it killed her.
Kaylee was an outcast at school because everyone found out about her pregnancy. People would curse at her and call her horrible names, even try tripping her in the hallway. One day Kaylee opened her locker and found a note inside with the picture of a dead fetus with the words BABY KILLER written on it. That note destroyed her. She called me one night while I was asleep, but she didn't leave a message. The next morning I got a phone call. Kaylee was dead.
The shock made me numb to my surroundings. Kaylee had killed herself. She was in so much agony that she couldn't bear to live anymore so she took her own life. She had called me that night and I hadn't answered. I wasn't able to talk her out of it, and now she's gone. I was shocked, despairing, and infuriated. I hated Kaylee's boyfriend who had left her, her classmates for mistreating her, and her parents for forcing her to do something so terrible, but most of all, I hated myself. I had the audacity to call myself her friend and yet I wasn't there for her when she needed me the most. I cried for days on end, even in my sleep as nightmares enveloped me. I was unable to grasp the fact that Kaylee was gone forever and it tore me up inside. Everyone told me that it wasn’t my fault, that Kaylee was unstable and that there was nothing I could do, but nobody knows what would’ve happened. Even with comforting words, the guilt I felt stayed with me, lurking in the depths of my heart, surfacing every so often. I used to hear people say that she was too young to die. But then again, life isn’t fair, so why should death be?
Death is a mysterious thing. It has no morals or limitations. In the eyes of death, everyone is equal. Death can bring sorrow, or it can bring peace, but whether it is a welcomed blessing or a horrible tragedy, the result is still the same. Some of us are able to accept this reality, while others refuse to believe that we have no control over our cruel fate. In the end, what everyone needs to realize is that it is because of death that we are able to live. It reminds us that life is precious and that every moment matters, so make every second of every hour of every day of every year count.