Life is strange.
When I was growing up I thought a lot about death. I was a strange child, I admit. But I often thought about it.
Growing up in a small town and attending a highly religious school, I was taught that it was plain and simple. When you died, you simply went to Heaven or Hell. Done. I can’t remember how many times I was told that I would get a “one way ticket to Hell” if I did or didn’t do something. However, some of my teachers started to contradict each other. In high school I was told about Hades, a so called “waiting room” in the afterlife. This is where all the dead people supposedly sit and wait until the rapture comes and God decides who goes where. I have a strange picture of this in my mind. Do all the dead people just sit in an endlessly big room and stare at each other all day? Do you at least get to go up to your high school bully and say; “Dude, what the fuck?” Do Marilyn Monroe and Ted Bundy drink tea together?
I don’t know the rules.
After moving to Pretoria and studying drama, my mind began to broaden. I was introduced to many different types of people with many different types of thinking. And I realized that life isn’t that simple. It isn’t possible for the human mind to comprehend how complex it all is.
And then, for the first time, I was truly punched in the face by death. My friend, Jodie, passed away suddenly at the age of 20. It was the kind of tragedy that you hear about. You fear it, but you quietly hope that it will never strike anywhere close to home.
This was all going wrong. I was supposed to die before everyone else.
Shortly after Jodie’s death, she visited me in a dream one night. I dreamt that she was walking out of our college, towards me with a big smile on her face. She had her big bag with the peace signs and her hair was in her signature beehive. There were lots of people around us and I was trying to get to her. She raised her hand in the air and waved.
And then she was gone.
A friend of mine told me that Jodie visited her and a few other people in their dreams. Only, they got to talk to her. In a bizarre way I felt jealous. I also wanted to talk to her. I wanted to tell her how much I’ve missed her and how just the thought of her makes me want to burst out in tears. I haven’t cried one tear for my father, not even when we scattered his ashes, but I’ve cried a thousand tears over that girl.
The other night I was reading a novel on my bed. As I was reading it, I became aware of a moth fluttering around my head. Suddenly the moth perched itself on my arm. I took a breath to blow it away, but stopped and looked at it. The wings were truly beautiful. From afar it looked like any other moth, but up close I could see all the intricate patterns. I looked at it for a moment, then blew. It wouldn’t go away. I kept blowing, but the moth stubbornly held on. Eventually I gently brushed it off with my hand. But each time it kept coming back. I started getting irritated, but then I remembered something:
Some of Jodie’s friends and family have said that they had incidents when moths and butterflies came and sat on them. This is not in their nature, from what I understand.
I thought for a moment of how ridiculous I was going to sound, but then I said aloud;
“Thank you, Jo.”
I then gently touched the moth again and it flew off my arm and landed on the duvet. After I finished reading for the night, I thought of how to get the moth off of my duvet without hurting it. I held out my finger to the moth and it climbed onto my hand. After a bit of a struggle (because it kept climbing from finger to finger) I managed to get it to settle on my bedside table. I switched off the light and went to sleep.
The next morning I woke up and the moth was gone.
I knew it would be.
…And the moment I finished writing that last sentence, a tiny moth flew past my face where I’m sitting in a mall. It flew past me and up towards the ceiling in a spiral motion.
Thank you, Jo.