When I was four years old, my great grandmother died. I went to her funeral and saw her body. It frightened me, and I wished I had not gone there. Now looking back, I was frightened only in the abstract sense, because the scene was not at all scary.
She was eighty when she died. My memory of her was of a small and senile person. She used a crutch and had a wobbly walk. Her face was full of wrinkles. In the funeral house, she was lying on a tall bed as if she had been asleep. Ever since then, I have equated death with sleep.
Two years ago, a friend died. She was twenty-six. She was a vibrant person. She talked loudly and laughed loudly. She was enthusiastic about every little silly thing. She was full of life. I went to the funeral house to view her body. I wanted to, because I needed to persuade myself that she was truly dead and not just hiding somewhere. But what I saw was not her but death.
She was lying in a box. Despite the makeup, she was pale and mud-colored. The skin was drooping from her skeleton like a sheet of plastic, making her once plump face thin and sharp. The cheeks were protruding visibly. Her once big nose was small with skin pulling tightly from both sides. Her once thick eyelids and lips lay flat on the bones. It did not look like her, but an inept wax model of her. I realized at that moment how fake dead bodies were in movies.
I had expected to say proper goodbye to her at the funeral house, but I didn’t, because she was not there. There would never be a chance to say proper goodbye to her, because she was gone, permanently.
Life is fragile and short. Someday we will all be lying in a box with our skin drooping from our skeleton, looking like an inept wax model. Someday we will all be gone, permanently.