At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?
(Thank you for suggesting this prompt, Swoosieque.)
When I was five years old, my mother took me onto her lap to explain to me that my great uncle Ton-ton Gene had passed away and we would never see him again. I remember crying in her arms and asking if we would be seeing my Tantine Georgette soon and if she was okay. They had moved back to France months before because my great uncle had been diagnosed with advanced colon cancer and he wanted to spend his final days in France. I wasn’t told any of this when they left, all that I knew was that I missed them and this was the first time that I had anyone die and it was a lot to understand.
I remember that night very vividly , lying in bed looking out towards the window where the Triboro bridge was lit up and my baby sister was asleep in her crib. I remember trying to imagine death, my mother said that we would never see Ton-ton Gene ever again and he had gone up to heaven, I closed my eyes and saw blackness and tried to to envision the moment when it would be beyond darkness, it would be black, but without my voice in my head, my thoughts would end, my feelings would end, i would never ever open my eyes and be a part of the world. I know that at that moment, I wasn’t articulating these images and thoughts precisely in this way, but what I am writing was bundled up in a huge emotion of fear and dread. The thought that one day, death would happen not only to me, but to my Maman and Papa was overwhelming that night.
I am not sure if at that point I got out of my bed and ran into my parent’s room, I might have, but my memory doesn’t have that image stored in my head for that night. All I remember is scaring myself with those intense thoughts and feelings.
I still get stuck in that dark imagining of the moment when I no longer exist and it does make for some dark images and tough truths. I usually flip over to some beautiful story telling in my head of a cute villa somewhere in Le Canon in France and that always does the trick of dispelling those awful images.