I began thinking about death at 11 years old – too young to be an angsty teen where death is dramatized and sung about in moody songs, and too old not to know what parents mean when they say grandma or grandpa have gone to sleep with the angels. At this age, death is hardly a spectacle you can interpret as a right of passage to a greater form of existence. At this age, you unknowingly enjoy the embrace of the soon-to-be-dead loved ones until you are told that you can longer feel their warmth even if you tried.
My first thoughts of death came unexpectedly while exiting my mom’s car after coming home from grocery shopping. I had stepped out with a light bag of candy and fruit, my mother’s attempt to sneak some good sugar into my diet, and I blanked out. Dissociation spun my barely adolescent mind into a black, blank canvas where the thought of death expressed itself to me like a long piece of stringed fabric stretched too thin and snapping in two.
My suddenly mature mind began thinking, “Is this death? To be so worn out after years of life that one second, you’re living, and the next, life is no longer connected to your body, and everything that once made you who you are ceases to exist?”
Afterward, life continued, as all days do for young teens who think that being unable to hang out with their hoodlum friends will cause the end of their social life. Whatever that even means. It continues on a straight path until life or some existential force tests your durability, reminding you that death will always be around you, even in the subconscious places where the rules of reality should be suspended. That is where the thought of death transcends itself into an experience.
It allowed you to remain complacent with the subtle sense of security of seemingly escaping its presence by letting you fuel its inventory of methods for your death. A sudden car accident, chronic disease, or self-destruction, it catalogs them in its on-call stock for when it deems your death to be necessary. No longer bound by the limits of your imagination, it escapes the image of your future into a force pounding on the walls of reality, attempting to rob you of the life running through your body. This is where my first near-death experience entered my life, in my most vulnerable state, where it attempted to escape from its world into mine.
I don’t know what evil I have done or who I have wronged in my short time on this Earth that has amalgamated such evil to break through my subconscious. It’s easier to accept this if I believe I am the outlier, a bystander caught in the crossfire among the heinous and malicious individuals who are meant to see the horrors I saw. But it is also difficult because I think that maybe I saw this because of what I will do.
This is where I met the Hazardous Man.