As long as I can think back, I have thought about the fear of dying.
I remembered many stories, where people, who had clinically died, were
resuscitated . They later told about their experience:
Most of the time they came up with a similar description. They saw
their whole life passing before their inner eyes.
The signification of this was clear. They had not to think about it.
Without a doubt they knew when they had failed or done well. A long way
through a dark tunnel in a speed-bending chute: and then,
the bright light and a vision of something all-powerful and
It somehow overtook me, wherever I was, in the bus, walking through a
city centre, or in bed just before going to sleep. It happened again,
without any reason.
But sometimes there had been a reason. For instance, when I passed the
drunks, that always gathered in front of the bookshop, in the little
alcove before the main entrance. One of them suddenly had dropped dead.
While people were standing around, just looking, I thought: "He is
already beyond the reach of fear."
Or the other time, in the bus, going to London. The old woman opposite
me was sitting very quietly, her hand on her book. But somehow I
noticed something odd in her posture. She sat slightly tilted and her
hair had fallen over her forehead and was covering half her face. Just
when I wondered, how the heck she was able to breathe with all this
hair over her mouth, I realised to my horror, that she was dead.
I alerted the driver and we stopped and there was a huge traffic jam
caused by this sudden halt. Everything seemed to have stopped and would
stop forever. The old woman might have died peacefully, but I was
thinking about her husband and her children. Would they have allowed
her to die?
I imagined him arriving in a frenzy, rubbing her face with his
handkerchief, pulling her by the arms, squeezing her hands and
shouting: Don't leave us!
Her eyes would roll back, so that the white would just stare sideways.
In despair he would shake her violently, so that she would not die, if
he could help it.
I know about fear of death. When that horse galloped past my house, and
my dog ran after it, straight into a following car. I was there like a
flash and cradled him in my arm. We looked at each other for a last
time. His eyes glazing fast, mine welling with tears. I saw a reproach
in them. It had been my fault. I should have had prevented this
accident by holding him back. He always had trusted me, and now it was
too late for explanations. I had betrayed him, had left him alone to
the very end.
Even when I was alone, at night in my bed, I could be scared. There
rolled these waves of fear over me. I had to sit up, because people who
die, would of course lie down .
It mostly happened, when I had been in unfamiliar surroundings .The
bed, when I suddenly woke up, would be in the wrong place, the door
locked without a key. The light switch would have moved somewhere
hidden and the emptiness around suffocating me.
My last hope would be the windows. If I looked outside, I somehow would
have expected to see something familiar, even now, in the face of
But deep down, I knew, that the windows were barred, that the outside
was as frightening as the inside and I was alone, left to the forces of
Sometimes, when I am up town, walking among an anonymous crowd, I try
to remember people I knew, who have died and imagine them, waiting for
me as ghost-like figures, waving to me and in spite of my reluctance,
pulling me over to the other side.
If ever those nights would become true!
When I was small, I begged my father, to let me get out of the car, on
a mountain path, when another vehicle wanted to overtake. I was in
fear, our car would fall down the precipice. I was called a coward
then, because, I felt, my fear was still unworthy. Later, I learnt
about real fear that increases with the power that creates it. It is
near impossible to realise the force of this power, its extent, except
in our fear. As soon as we start to think about it, everything becomes
blank. May be it is just getting too powerful for our brain to be taken
in, all this angst!
I often wonder about Heaven . When we are born, we are ripped out of it
and thrown somewhere less precious, where so many things distract us.
We were separated against our will and have now become overloaded with
them, accustomed to earth, unworthy of heaven.
Isn't that a terrible idea?
Each of us, I think, is carrying his or her own dying hour, at least
I am thinking of a story I once heard of a man, a teacher, who lay
dying in hospital, well aware that his time was up. The nurse at his
bedside was reading out some instructions, and as she was foreign, she
mispronounced the word: "prescription" and said "presiption". He had to
put this right and told her, that it ought to be pronounced
"prescription". He even spelled it for her. Then he died.
May be he simply wanted the truth, or he hated incorrectness. Nobody
will ever know. But for sure, he did not act out of pedantry. He was
just annoyed and he did not want to leave a world that was going to be
Otherwise the same could be said of Hubertus, a Dutch friend of mine,
who got up from his deathbed, and arrived just in time to safe a child
from drowning in his garden pond. Somehow in his agony, he was warned
by a premonition. He, too, only had wanted the truth.
I always had felt uneasy to hear of a dying person that he no longer
recognised anybody. I would think of a sad face that looked at me from
a chair in a pleading way to grasp familiar things, but there was
nothing there. I am terrified at such a change. I still have not
explored my own world, what could I do in another? I 'd like to stay
with the things dear to me. If there was a change, I would be happy to
live at least among dogs and cats. They inhabit a world similar to our
own and there would be things I had known.
The day will come, when I will hold a pen and my scribbles would be
words I don't mean. There will be also the left-out-words, and their
significance will dissolve like clouds and fall like rain.
Whenever I start writing, I strongly feel, that there is a natural
solution to it, a self-regulating help out there, that will answer all
I have written down words of wisdom, prayers and poems I love, to read
when I cannot do anything else anymore. And while writing them down,
all the words grow on me and have time, lingering, to die away