Death is a nearly tangible being to me, an ever-present dark figure who lurks in the shadows and creeps nearer to me daily. He knows me intimately and follows my every move. He is constant, ubiquitous, endlessly prowls the corners of my rooms and my mind. He looms in the background of every celebration, each joyous event. He haunts my waking moments as well as my sleep, refusing to grant me peace, and robs from me carefree moments and untroubled thoughts.
At times, he seems warm and welcoming – promises such solace and release. He speaks delicately and sweetly and softens me with his offers of relief from my pain and my burdens. He waves his hand and paints a picture of glorious liberation, which is both sweepingly beautiful and horrifyingly deceptive. For though I welcome sweet escape, an end to this anguish, I am still conscious of my yet unfulfilled purpose, as I await my appointed time. And though his lips drip with honey, I feel the sting his fate brings, know the sorrow of those who will be left behind when I finally meet my demise.
Oh, yes, I have caught glimpses, insights, into the true nature of this Pale Rider who torments me. He is neither a comforter nor a gentle soul; he is a beast and a torturer who seeks solely to destroy my body and soul. In truth, behind the tender façade and beneath the splendid mask, he is a leering, sneering, mocking creature, a murderer and a thief who has stolen the lives of many before me – friends, loved ones, mere acquaintances – some who joined him willingly and some without choice. Indeed, from my own shadowland, I have witnessed his spiteful taunts, am repulsed by his delight, his sense of triumph, his sheer revelry in the plight of those taken far too soon for my taste. He relishes the misery and fear of those deaths – celebrates the alarm his cruel twist of fate, the seeming randomness and unfairness of it all, creates in the tattered beings he leaves in the wake of his destruction.
In an instant, if I listen with care, his beautiful whispers are revealed as cruel shrieks, punishing reminders that there is ultimately no escape, and that, in the end, the victory is always his. He implores me to succumb. Why delay? My resistance merely spells prolonged suffering, agony beyond compare. Perhaps my surrender would grant me serenity, tranquility, a measure of dignity I might not otherwise be spared, he coyly suggests. But I recognize his lies, as there is no path to his realm which is not fraught with misery – if not for myself, then for the precious souls who pray for my continued presence here – be that only one more day.
No, though my tempter, my tormenter, speaks of the inescapable conclusion I must conclude, I know his true essence and will not be fooled or swayed by his lies. My existence is marked by struggle and marred by grief. My days are tarnished and impure, even the most blissful moments touched by sorrow as well. It is true that I have been forever altered by this demon who overshadows my life, and I can never again be the carefree, untroubled soul I once was, but I will not succumb to his deception nor surrender to his false offering. Victory and peace lie not in Death’s hands. For I know where there is shadow there is light, though sometimes dim, and I have also glimpsed my true Redeemer, who has numbered my hairs, counted my days, preordained my path, and appointed my time – who has won the battle before it ever began. And, so, I endure and hope beyond hope for brighter days.