I first met Death at six.
I was not uneasy as his tall figure walked through my grandparents’ house. Beaming up at him I caught his eye, he sat on the floor to play with me and I thought he was kind.
I have always been blessed with the ability of winning people over. I believe it’s because I choose to love people from the moment I meet them, love is contagious. That morning Death caught my love and made me a deal, a kiss for a day.
I hate moustaches. In my few short years of life I had always refused to kiss my grandfather on the lips. It wasn’t that I didn’t know he was sick, the doctors had sent him home to wait for Death and turned his bedroom into a hospital. He just had a scratchy moustache and I hated moustaches.
With Death’s deal in my mind I took my tiny legs climbed up onto my Granddad’s bed. Wrapping my arms around him and leaning in, I kissed his scratchy moustache lips and said my parting words “I love you Granddad”.
The next day Death took him. I was so thankful to the kind man who let me say goodbye.
In my nightmares I remember him there. In my room when I was ten, whispering to me “This is the reason you will look for me” as my cousin forced himself on top of my small innocent body.
It took another man in a bedroom that had been turned into a hospital room, to bring him to me again.
Death came to me in the bathroom. Pushing the wet hair out of my eyes he told me it was time to say goodbye. This time there would be no kiss. With the strange belief that if I cried hard enough he wouldn’t take my uncle away, I remained sobbing on the shower floor as the water ran cold, washing my salty tears down the drain.
That afternoon the phone rang and I knew before the words were spoken. Death has taken my uncle away.
In the years to come I would taunt Death. Ready and willing his return I threw myself into his path again and again.
He visited me in the hospital room when I was fourteen, with a sliced wrist and pills in my stomach he held out his hand to me. As I sat up to take his hand my father walked in. My eye contact my love broke and he vanished. That was the day I learnt Death was a jealous lover.
He took three years to bide his time. I forgot what it felt like to be in his presence. So on that dreary day in July, when I couldn’t move because my heart felt like it was shattering and the waters on my mind clouded up, I blew it off as the mean reds and went along with wallowing the day away.
A phone call can change your life.
With the words “Your father is dead” my world was destroyed. He had taken my father, he had stolen my sun. Death was a cruel lover, he had not even let me say goodbye.
Death became my shadow. Taunting me daily to come to him. Whispering in my ear that where I really belonged was in his arms. He underestimated me, I can be just as stubborn and angry he is. I could never forgive him for stealing my father. I was too consumed by guilt to leave my mother, when I knew that day in hospital my father had traded his life for mine.
He offered up a gift as I held my newborn nephew in my arms. As he handed this beautiful, blonde haired baby boy an hourglass and he disappeared with a laugh, I vowed I would never love or look for him again.
It took four years for me to forget my vow. As my mind started to fracture, the craving for my lover returned. The pills had barely ran down my throat when he came to me. The sight of my former lover enraged me, forgetting is not forgiving. I spat out the pills and returned to the hospital to prove I was done with this toxic love.
He was seventeen and sweet, and my lover gave me no warning this time. Death took this sweet young man with a noose. Leaving me with the reminder that all it would take is a rope to be in his arms.
I was furious, determined not to let him plague my mind I sought help. I would do anything and everything it took to put as much distance as I could between me and the former love of mine.
To ease my anger he gave me time to say goodbye. Hanging up the phone to the news my Grandfather had just been diagnosed with cancer his familiar whisper came “Get in your car and drive.” On the end of that drive I found a Grandfather I didn’t recognise, one who was open and funny, one who was ready to tell me wild stories of his youth, who gushed about the beauty of his wife when they first met. I will always treasure that day.
When Death took him three weeks later, I was thankful he gave me closure and let me say goodbye.
He passed over my enigmatic best friend the first time he was supposed to take her, deciding she had too much fight for leukaemia to win. He did not spare her because she was destined to accomplish great things for the world. He spared her because she was needed by us, the few who were blessed enough to have her in our lives.
This was my second deal with death, although this time I didn’t know the terms.
Instead of a day he gave us years. Years to let her strength rub off on us, years to learn her fighting spirit, years to create countless memories, years of tears and laughter. Just as we were lulled into a false sense of security he came for her again. Death is the cruellest of lovers.
Three weeks into 2016 and Death took my Granny away. He gave me no warning, he left me no clues. There were no kisses, there were no deals and no goodbyes.
Still awash with grief for my granny I received another world shattering phone call. The hourglass is turning. My beautiful blonde haired boy’s heart, liver and kidneys are failing.
I beg my former lover to please give me a deal, take my every kiss, take my life if it means his can stay here.
My former lovers silence is suffocating as I beg my beautiful little nephew, to please just open your eyes.