Tag Archives: death

Five Minutes to Live

The alarms are blaring outside and the TV has the shrill piercing beep and a warning to take cover immediately—that North Korea has launched missiles that will reach the U.S. in less than 5 minutes.

I’m so scared that I am almost in a catatonic state, finding it hard to believe that this is the end for us all. For weeks we have been getting dire predictions that war is imminent but like everyone else I did not really believe it. How could that be? How could any rational person let the rhetoric get so out of hand that here we are. But when you have so many lickspittles in Washington not willing to stand up to this administration, it was inevitable. When you have an unbalanced President who stokes the fires and provokes, and thinks it is macho to use the nuclear weapons at his disposal, it is bound to happen. I go through the motions of grabbing my birds and jumping into my bedroom closet—the safest place. But, as I am doing this I know there is no safety anywhere and I am doomed. Well at least I will die fast.

I close my eyes, think of my children and feel so sad that I will not be able to say goodbye. I harken back to when I was a child and I used to play the game of what if: what if the Russians launched a bomb and we were told it would hit us in 5 minutes? I remember saying that I would hide in the closet with no other thought of what would become of us. I remember hiding underneath the desk at school for our bomb drills and cannot believe that this is it and all that practice was for naught. However, I take solace in the fact that at least I won’t get any older, and that maybe I will see my boy in heaven, all healed and beaming. A feeling of peace and calm comes over me as I pray. Those sweet parrots of mine know something is wrong and instead of squirming and squawking they are quiet and strangely attentive, just sitting with me. I think of all the things I wanted to do and never did. I oddly worry about my computer and laptop, and my beautiful camera equipment. I think that nobody will ever know I existed because all traces of my life will be obliterated with everything else. I wonder if by some chance I do survive the initial impact, how long will it take for the radiation to travel and how us survivors will die a slow and agonizing death. I think back on the movie, “On the Beach” where survivors who lived in Australia waited for the inevitable. I remember the ominously preternatural TV movie, “The Day After” and try to remember how long it took for Jason Robards to die of radiation poisoning. I think of my friend whose entire family moved to Australia during the cold war, only to move back to New York a few years later. I wonder who will succumb first—me or the birds? I think that if only I had taken my phone into the closet I could at least say farewell to my son, but in my haste I left it outside on the counter. I wonder if anybody will be posting on Facebook or the Kardashians will post doomsday selfies, maybe burying them in a time capsule to let the future inhabitants of the world know who the beautiful people were. Will my pictures or paintings survive? How about my IRA—will I have money to live in the new apocalyptic world. Will I lose my hair and where will I get my hair done in the new world if I don’t die, knowing full well all these thoughts are totally ridiculous?

Then during my foray into the dire future or lack thereof, I suddenly become aware that the sirens have stopped and there seems to be some announcement on the TV. I wonder if I am just dead already. I listen carefully and decide to venture out of the closet only to hear the amazing announcement that a miracle of sorts has happened—the U.S. has intercepted the missiles and the strike has been averted. We will live—I will live—my children will live. The announcer is saying that the threat is over and during my rejoicing and relief, a cold and dark shadow appears to pass over me making me shiver and I sigh and say, “For now.”

The People Downhill

I am thinking evil thoughts—thoughts that a sane human being should not even be considering. I am trying to ignore the incessant howling, barking, and whining downhill from my bedroom but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so and I am getting blindingly angry by the minute.

I am so disturbed because no matter how many times we ask nicely, threaten, put notes on their door, that animal is still out there at all hours. I am most upset because by them ignoring our complaints they are essentially saying, “screw you!” Who are these people anyway and who the hell do they think they are to disturb a whole community? The next day, I go outside my back door and look down hill, beyond the pine trees on my property to where I think the barking might be originating. Suddenly the dog lets lose with the barking as if he is saying, “Here I am.” I take a picture with my phone and send it out to the board members and lo and behold, they say that these people live right next door to them and give me an address. I’ve been out there at all hours, screaming at them into the night to, “Shut that damn dog up or I’ll call the police” and in it goes only to return the next night to haunt and harass me—personally it seems. I wonder if others are as bothered by this as I am or is it just me.

I do research and find out that the owner of this property is deceased so I have no idea who actually lives there—are they renters or squatters?—nobody seems to know. I interview people living next door and find out that they leave the house at night, dump the demon dog on the patio for hours, and slink back just before dawn, following in the leader’s umbra. One by one, they enter the house, take the dog in, and do not reappear until the next night. That sounds suspicious to me. At this point I just want to eliminate that dog—maybe they are vampires but who cares as long as they don’t mess with my sleep.

My head is spinning with many unanswered questions and ideas. Maybe I can get rid of two menaces—I begin to fantasize about murder—but is it murder if the object of your hatred is the undead? What if the dog is not among the living either? Do I need a silver bullet to kill it and where can I even get a silver bullet anyway and would I need a special gun? Can you kill someone who is already dead and remembering True Blood, I know that you can by staking it in the heart or using a silver bullet to achieve the Final Death. On this night I have homicide in my heart and start planning how to rid myself of these tormentors—I cannot take it anymore.

The next day I decide to consult the Internet since everyone knows that is the most reliable source and everything is true. I Google “how to kill vampires”—then, “how to kill a vampire dog”—then, “how to get a gun”—then, “how to get silver bullets”. I start thinking of how the whole community will hail me as a hero when the deed is done—“Marilyn the Vampire Slayer” has a nice ring to it. I could even start a business or star in a new reality TV show. Who would’ve thought that this terrible situation would open the door to boundless opportunities?

I find many websites giving detailed instructions on how to deliver the Final Death to a vampire. I decide I will use a combination of wooden stakes and silver bullets to make sure these monsters will no longer walk the Earth. I look through my garage and find one long sharp wooden stake, but what about the others? I’ll have to go to Lowes and ask if they have any vampire killing kits. I have another problem because I’m not sure who exactly inhabits that townhouse, since it appears to be musical tenants (or whatever they are) that change every other week. I don’t want to be outnumbered and risk being turned too (although that might not be a bad idea either, because I will be immortal). But what would I do with my two parrots—can I turn then into vampire birds? I decide I do not want to become an undead unless I can take my birds into that world too. I may have to enlist the help of others but whom do I ask—who would believe me? How about putting an ad on Craig’s List that would read, “Vampire slayers wanted. Call Marilyn.”

The more I think I have a solution, the more questions arise which lead to even more until I am overwhelmed with fear and I am getting cold feet. The What Ifs are starting to outweigh the benefits of riding the world of these bloodsuckers. Then a thought comes to my mind—why not call Animal Control in Richmond County and file a formal complaint? I had been told that they really take these complaints seriously and achieve results. I put my murderous plans on hold in favor of a more sane, less dangerous solution. I go on their website and record my complaint, including all the recent evenings that creature has been out. I also include the strange comings and goings of the occupants of this dwelling, leaving out my suspicions that they and the dog are indeed vampires.

It has been two weeks and all is quiet on the Whitney Place front, although I am still waiting for the “other shoe to drop” because it seems too good to be true. Although I still think they are vampires I realize I should not share that with other people. I’m still watching them and if this remedy proves untenable I’m ready with my gun, silver bullet, and special vampire killing kit. I have received numerous inquiries to my ad on Craig’s list so I am prepared to strike at a moment’s notice. I will wait and see how it goes.

Ambiguous Loss

Ambiguous loss can take many forms, and is very different from a physical death.

Last week I attended a funeral of a 23-year-old young woman who was the daughter of a former co-worker. I have always felt that there is no greater tragedy than the loss of a child—hands down! This was a sudden death, due to substance abuse, so nobody was prepared for the loss. My heart ached for her because I felt, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” But as sad as this was, the family is hopefully able to eventually “move on” after the grieving process (which doesn’t completely end). But what happens when your loved one physically disappears such as with a downed airplane, MIA, kidnapping of a child, or any situation where they disappear with no trace?

Ambiguous loss is just what the name implies. There is no official cause of “death” because you don’t know if they are alive or not. There is no body to mourn. The family is left in limbo, knowing nothing, not being about to grieve, wondering each day where they are, or if they should give up or hold out for hope. And, sometimes against all odds, that lost child turns up alive, so they never want to truly give up, but at the same time, how long do you hold out? It is a terrible existence where you cannot truly grieve or move on. But, another type of ambiguous loss, which most people don’t think of, is watching your loved one descend into the black hole of dementia, or mental illness. In every sense of the word, you have LOST them, if not physically, but their essence—that thing that makes them them—is gone. In the case of dementia or mental illness, the loss is gradual, until they become “somebody you used to know.” It is like invasion of the body snatchers, where they sort of look like your loved one, but have been replaced by a stranger. You can’t really “grieve” in the traditional sense because they are physically alive, but they are not the person you loved. In the case of mental illness there is always HOPE that they may return to “normal” with medication, but either way, acceptance and faith plays a huge part in continuing to go on. I do think ambiguous loss is harder, in some ways, because there is never an actual end, so you can never have a new beginning. You are always in a perpetual state of uncertainty, wondering, and never knowing how to feel.