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Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Colors of Death


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.
Aloha oe,
A.J.

9 comments:

CynStorm said...

AJ, I am very sorry for your loss. Death is never easy no matter what context or situation. One is never really prepared for death, we can only live our lives in the now. Beautifully written.

My thoughts are with your friends family.

Cyn

AJ Llewellyn said...

Thank you Cyn!

C.R. Moss said...

wow. my thoughts are with you dear friend & your friend's family.
you asked: Do writers really think about the emotional weight of their death scenes? in my one book i did. when my one character decided to sacrifice herself to save her sister and her people, it tore me up.
& i agree with Cyn, beautifully written.
hugs
C

Ruth said...

My condolences to you and your friend and may you all find peace in knowing his pain is gone and he has found peace.

I have witnessed the death of more family and friends than I care to think about-two of three of them to cancer and one to psirosis of the liver and dementia. Then there were others at ages too young to go and entirely unexpected.

I spent many hours with most of those I lost while they went through the last days of their lives and always they spoke to or of someone who had gone before and had come to "take them home".For me it gave almost a sense of comfort to know that at their last minutes they weren't alone.Somehow it makes it easier to know that when it comes my time I won't have to face it alone.

Susilien said...

My Dear Heart,

As I read what you said: "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."
I rely on that belief every day.

As I watch those I love live and love and live some more I pray very hard that they do go on. I am sorry for your loss. Many prayers and loving thoughts are sent your way and to your friend's family.

Lynn Crain said...

I am so sorry for your friend and you on the loss of her brother. Death always seems so...final...and people have a hard time dealing with it on many levels.

As for me, I wonder a lot since my mother died from a heart attack yet she had Alzheimer's. I had often wondered what she thought as she slowly lost her memory and have thought many times on writing a book using that scenario.

Death, like birth, is something each of us has to do alone and while the thought doesn't please me, I know we have no choice in the matter.In the past few years, I came come to believe in reincarnation as I have never been able to reconcile the fact of going sometwhere and knowing I've been there. The only explanation can be is that somewhere, sometime I was in that exact spot.

As one gets older, and I've pasted the half-century mark, you do think about dying but it's hard when life is all around. I just don't think 100, or in my case 125 years plus, will ever be enough.

My motto is always live each day as if it were your last.

Lynn

AJ Llewellyn said...

Thanks everyone for your beautiful comments. You're all such wonderful, loving people.

xoxo

Tamsyn said...

You have my deepest condolences. It is always hard to deal with death, much as it is a part of life. My thoughts goes to your friend's family.

Erin Sinclair said...

Nothing prepares you for it...absolutely nothing. When my ex killed himself the only thing I can remember is the devestation the event wreaked on everyone, including me.

I knew my ex to be a vital larger than life sort of man, to the good and to the bad. When I saw his shell lying in his coffin, my brain became two dimensional. I couldn't wrap my mind around him not waking up and cracking some sick joke about how he fooled us all. He had made such an impact on all of our lives, but death was the equalizer, that's for sure. Sometimes I still can't believe he's gone, but I look at my girls and see he lives on.

There are no words to describe that kind of awful, permanent loss. It is such a personal, private, individual experience, I've never known what to say or how to assist someone in that kind of pain...

Erin

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