I was asked to write a “scary story.” Some instance in my life when I’ve been afraid for my life… or something along those lines. Given this idea, I began to think of all my near death experiences. I was once dragged under water by a faulty rigged tube in Lake View, IA. I have stepped on rusty nails, accidently cut by knives, stepped on hot coals, severely sprained my wrist… Okay those may not all be near death events, but at the time they felt like it. Right now, I just have a hard time comprehending those to be scary. Then there was the time I had to be taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, in which case I never really got the opportunity to be “scared.” I was incoherent, people! Did I have anxiety about having to talk to my parents, my coach, and my teammates about what had happened… Yes, but even then I wouldn’t say I was necessarily scared.
What instills a fear in me the most, I think is the idea of losing someone close to me. The first time I had ever gone to a funeral was in the second grade, it was my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family. I wasn’t sad at all at first, I didn’t even cry. That was until I went to the wake.
I saw my grandpa lying in his casket, motionless. He looked peaceful, like he had just dozed off into another famous nap of his. I often came home to him asleep on our couch after school sometimes, so this wasn’t anything new to me.
As I looked around I saw other children my age and younger running around, coloring, playing with blocks, etc. Basically anything to keep an average child distracted. Then, I remember looking to the parents and all other “grown-ups.” They were crying. Why wasn’t I?
People began approaching the casket and paying their respects. I figured this was something I should do as well, although none of the other children were doing it. I asked one of my aunts to go with me.
I walked up to the casket.
Not a tear was shed.
I stared at his face.
I put the picture that I colored for him in the casket.
Why wasn’t I crying?
Then I grabbed my grandfather’s hand, like I used to do when we would visit him at his house. Why was he so cold? I jolted backward, and that’s when the tears started.
I asked my aunt what it meant to be dead? I asked her to explain what grandpa was going through, and why we were all there?
It was in this moment I realized what “death” really meant.
As a second grader, this was the scariest thing in the entire world.
I ran away from the casket and hid in a back room. I came to terms with what was going on, and I think that it was at this point I chose to grow up a little. I started questioning everything I had ever heard about death.
Was there a really a star added to the sky every time someone died?
Would my grandfather be reborn as something or someone else?
Was there a heaven and hell? Which one opened up there doors for my grandfather?
I questioned my faith, something I don’t think many second graders ever do, or should ever face at a young age, but I did it.
I began exploring the ideas of there not being a “God,” and that maybe things just happened… No rhyme or reason.
Not knowing, the future being so unsure… That’s what scares me.