Well, dear reader, the story that I am about to relate to you takes place in the summer; the time of year when I, death, claim the majority of suicide victims as my own. According to reliable sources, summer and the months leading up to it are when depressed human beings, weary of their very existence, choose against the will of all who love them to steal from themselves what is held most dear. Is it even possible to steal something that you yourself own, you ask? Well, do you really own life? I’m sure my counterpart would say otherwise. Let me introduce you to my coworker, Life himself.
Life is much happier than I. He (or she, who am I to assume the gender of a state of being? However, for the sake of this narrative, I shall refer to Life as ‘he’.) is full of, erm, well, life! It is indeed rather hard to describe something which the human mind cannot fully comprehend, but can’t you see I’m trying here? No matter!
Life works much harder than I, bringing roughly double the amount of existence into the world as I take out of it . However, my role on the universe does appear to have a greater affect on the lives of these human beings who so cherish the spotlight of creation. It seems to me that anguish is a stronger emotion than joy. Engrain these two images in your mind: the face of a mother who has just conceived and the face of the man whose brother has just died. Which image is clear in your conscience? I trust I have made my point.
Nonetheless, I give Life much credit for this simple reason: without Life, I would be without a job. In fact, I would be nonexistent. So for that reason, I am grateful for the work of Life, though we butt heads on many matters. One such matter is suicide. And it is on this topic that I narrate this story to you.
I will admit, I do not understand, nor will I ever comprehend the emotions and thoughts that exist inside a human mind. I know not what drives a man or woman to such insanity whereupon they would hoist themselves high upon a bridge with weights tied to their ankles, and with a shout (or cry, the difference is indistinguishable) shove themselves into the air, allowing gravity to send them into the water below and ultimately, into my arms. However, when such a moment presents itself, when one of the humans does contemplate suicide, I try to make the most of it.
Undoubtedly, Life will beat me to The Boss’s door. He always does (Life is the sort of fellow who is very passionate about his work and quick to respond to the happenings of existence). But The Boss will usually listen to both sides of the case, first to Life’s emotional cries of desperation, and then to my own monotone. But no matter how much we beg and plea and scratch and scuff, the decision is left up to The Boss. Every time. And so, after our measly presentations, we exit His office and proceed to the observatory, where we wait and watch for the fate of the human in question.
It was exactly 12:00 A.M. on this particular summer night, which I thought seemed particularly foreboding, when Anna, the teenaged daughter of a wealthy businessman, stood atop a tall bridge, primed to take the leap. Life and I watched in anticipation from the observatory, oblivious to her fate. I could see her sweating even from so great a distance away; I could tell she was about to make her move, when Life gasped and pointed.
“Angels!” he exclaimed, “Angels are encircling her! She will be saved!” and he jumped from his place in the observatory and rushed down to Earth to greet Anna with open arms. I watched it all from above as, indeed, she stepped away from the bridge and removed the weights from her ankles. The Boss had chosen Life for Anna, and there were tears of joy on her face as she realized what she was almost persuaded to do. Life hugged Anna with all his might while the angels stood by, watching cheerfully, and after the embrace they all danced in the street and rejoiced.
If I’m to be honest, a small tear escaped my eye that night as I watched so intently the scene unfold beneath me from my window seat in the observatory. I believe it was the first tear to ever abscond my tear ducts, and I trust it will be the last as well.
Something changed for me that night. Never again did I view my job in the same light. After that moment, I became more and more aware of the pain that I caused in the world and contrarily, I better appreciated Life’s honorable profession. No longer did I scratch and scuff when I entered The boss’s office to present my side of a case; no longer was I so eager to enter the scene of a crime. I suppose one could say I became soft that night.
After all these years of stealing souls, I’ve learned many things. One is that suicide, above all else, makes me weary. Life and I have had many a conversation about suicide, and we both believe that it is the most hopeless of all crimes.
So, dear reader, let me simply say this: do not worry about removing my career, for that will never happen, but if I can teach you anything at all through this grim account, let it be to choose life.