By A.J. Llewellyn
Many authors depict death in their works and since I am an erotic fiction author I think long and hard before killing off ANY character. I have done it a few times now, the first with Kimo, my hot Hawaiian Kahuna killing off his ex-wife by returning her own death-curse to her in My Hawaiian Song of Love and secondly, well, I've offed a few bad guys - always bad guys in my Waikiki Vampire books and my Blood Eclipse books with D.J. Manly.
I never linger over the killings, I don't glory in death. But it's a subject that interests me, especially since witnessing the passing of a friend this week.
He had been diagnosed with Stage-4 colon cancer and his sister, one of my dearest friends flew him to Los Angeles to be with her once he was given three months to live.
It's been anguishing to see his rapid decline, especially in view of the fact that this is the same disease that killed my mother.
My friend was in Hospice in the final weeks of his life. The staff were wonderful and very loving They kept him heavily medicated so that he was comfortable, but when I went to see him, he'd stopped eating and drinking and refused to lie in his bed.
He was sitting in an armchair and smelled terrible. I won't go into details but he wasn't taking trips to the bathroom...
"If I lie down, it will mean death," he said.
He began to hallucinate after 72 hours of no sleep and the heavy drugs to control the pain of the disease eating away at him.
His sister called me, frantic, saying he appeared to be talking to himself. "He's waving to somebody," she said.
"The angels have come for him," I said. "Maybe he sees your mother."
My friend became hysterical and I went to the Hospice and her brother, looking absolutely skeletal, but strangely at peace, lay perfectly still, only his hand rising from the bed. He was so out of it at this point that the staff were able to put him to bed and monitor him.
"I see colors, such beautiful colors," he said and I nodded. My mother had told me the same thing. Only she fought to stay on this planet because she had three small children.
My friend's brother never fought until the very end. He feared death until it claimed him at 5.03 PM when he saw his mother and grandfather waiting for him.
"I'm going home," he said.
I have thought about his passing since it occurred two days ago. I don't know if I can convey the horror and heartbreak, and yet the mysticism of what he saw in his final hours.
I wonder if I will be ever able to put this scene in a book. Do writers really think about the emptional weight of their death scenes? I know I've resisted overt and gratuitous dispatches and I feel now that it's unlikely I will write one again in a lets-get-this-over with way.
Death, when witnessed is a profoundly upsetting experience. I've yet to read a single book that pinpoints the sheer horror.
Nothing in life prepares us for the moment. Nothing anyone writes can do that. I don't wish this experience on anyone. I do know though that this encounter with the colors of the benevolence of 'the other side' has convinced me more than ever that only love is real because it is so much stronger than death.