Death and Spaghettios
I saw death once. He wasn’t as scary or intimidating as one would think. He wasn’t wearing black, his face was not a skull, he did not carry a sickle to harvest souls. No, that would be too obvious. He was on his front porch eating Campbell’s Spaghettios.
I was working construction with my dad. I was young at the time, too young to help. It was in the summertime and he took me along to get me out of the house. As I worked with him he told me he wanted me to meet someone. It was a man he made friends with. He lived in a trailer down the road. As my dad worked, he wanted me to sit with this man. He told me the man was blind and he needed company. I never met a blind person and the idea made me uncomfortable.
My dad lead me to the run down trailer and there he sat. I remember looking at his white hair, his stubbled face, and his disheveled flannel shirt. His eyes were blue, but an unnatural blue. He looked forward and ate his bowl of spaghettios. My dad introduced me to him and left to go back to his work.
I don’t remember anything we talked about. All I remember is looking at his face and feeling a fear, discomfort, and even disgust. He would lean in and talk to me and the smell of spaghettios would wash over my face. To this day when I look at a can of spaghettios I think of that man. I wanted to run back to my dad. With every sentence my stomach churned. Thankfully he was unaware of my discomfort. He was happy to have someone there to talk to.
What I saw that day was death and it frightened me. I saw mortality, I saw weakness. My mind that was filled with ideas of super-humans, super-heros, and American strength could not comprehend what I was looking at. Weakness, frailty, age, and poverty. I could deal with death as long as it looked like a spirit from another world. I could not deal with death when it looked human and natural.
Many years of my life I tried to fight my disgust of death. I hated him. I embraced ideas of heaven and hell, an afterlife that was void of all these flaws. Give me resurrection, give me divine health, give me miracles, but please keep me away from the man on the porch.
Then something happened in my heart. I started having compassion towards death. I remember the kindness death showed me on his front porch. Even though I was disgusted with him, he was willing to have a conversation with me. Death had something to say, death had a lesson to teach me. Death confronted me with my own mortality and weakness. Death made me realize how precious today was, and how valuable my heath is.
Death no longer disgusts me. We have become friends. He has taught me how to enjoy my children, how to enjoy my life, and how to embrace those in need. I no longer fear death. When I see him I hug him and spend time with him. I listen to his stories and learn and laugh. I hold a can of spaghettios and remember how fragile and short life is.