The climb is different for everyone. For a lucky few, the incline is moderate, and begins toward the end of a long, easy stroll. Most, of course, are not so fortunate; long or short, their climb is steep and exhausting from the beginning, with little to no reprieve.
But no matter the climber, I am always there to greet them at the precipice.
The questions are usually the same.
Am I dead?
This can’t be…
Can I have more time?
Where am I going?
I don’t know.
Will my loved ones be there?
I don’t know that, either.
Sometimes, you get interesting questions. Usually from children.
Will my dog be there?
Yes, of course.
…what, haven’t you heard? All dogs go to heaven.
Truly, I do not know what happens once you’ve crossed over to the other side. My place is on the border between life and death, not the spaces in between. But hundreds of thousands of years have made me soft towards children; perhaps because the young ones who have the misfortune to meet me often endured so much hardship in their short lives.
Young, old, or somewhere in between, most decide to go with me. The few who don’t, well…I may not know where you will end up, but I am certain it is better than fading away into nothingness.
Now, I hope you will forgive my monologuing; it has been a long time since someone asked me who I am without it being a rhetorical question uttered out of fright and disbelief. My job is lonely and without gratitude. Oh, sure, I understand why people are so focused on themselves when they meet me, what with that whole dying business, but it does wear on you…after some time.
…say, you wouldn’t happen to be a men’s extra small would you? European sizing, of course; not American.
You are? Marvelous. Why don’t you try these robes on for a moment. Just for fun, of course!
…a bit long, but not too bad. Now, if you could just hold onto this for a moment…no, no! It’s quite all right; it’s purely for aesthetics, I assure you. Not even sharp!
I’m just going to head into that light over there for a moment and take a quick peek…