Will Death Be Like Birth? Questions for my Newborn.
Do you suppose the transition from life into death is as unbearably confounding as that of “death” into life? Suddenly we will be thrust into a world where we are practically blind, if not seeing through a blurred fog, and if discomfort should arise, should we feel exhausted, hungry, filthy from shitting our own pants, or just painfully alone, our only recourse is to scream and cry, and pray that some foreign being thirty times the size of us will quickly arrive to fill our voids. Unfortunately, when they do, we feel manhandled, utterly helpless, without awareness of our arms and legs, which would be futile anyway for their pathetic lack of strength. In every moment it feels as though death is imminent. Every hunger pang, every dampened diaper (or whatever we wear in the afterlife), every insufferable moment of isolation from love might kill us, and then when its source of remedy arrives there are a few moments of transition that bring us even closer to death. We are under their control. We rely on these beasts and there is nothing we can do but hope that they take mercy on us.
For a while there is no potential for joy. We are not alternating between sadness and happiness, the way the beasts seem to, but instead terror and relief, terror and relief. Fuck, I am about to die! No, wait, I’m OK. No, I am about to die! No, wait, I’m OK. I’m OK. They saved me. I’m OK. I’m OK. I am OK, thank God. I wake up. I am about to die!
Time shall pass, and will we acclimate like they do? Will we begin to recognize what and whom we like, understand, even if unconsciously so, the passage of time and our new routine? Will we learn the language of our new surroundings in death, no longer rely only on our loudest and most guttural sounds in desperate cries for help? As we transition from terrified confusion to a particular familiarity, we acquire preferences and specific displeasures. We can communicate them, but it is apparent that we are still not in control. Will we ever regain control? In moments where our newly learned communication fails we regress back to the bestial screams that served us previously. Are we destined to suffer all of the same stages of growth in death? Will time heal our wounds, we’ll gradually forget about our “before world,” and finally experience true joy in our new existence? We’ll have friends and things we enjoy doing, places that feel like home, and instead of labeling the terrifying beasts as mere caretakers, they will become our favorite people in our new world, by which everything and everyone else is defined. Around the same time we finally discover control we will briefly hate them and reject all that they are, until finally, somewhere in the depths of our unconscious we decide, for better or worse, that they were right all along. Our death was in fact no death, but another gift of life, and we shall begin our own journey back to life, by giving life, “or death” to another. This is what I think about every time I watch my newborn scream as I change her diaper.