Monday, March 15, 2010

if death were good



Have you ever thought about how you would die? I try not to as much as possible but these past few days, the thought seems to be following me around. It was beside me in the movie theater. It was swimming in my morning coffee. I tried to ignore it but it wouldn’t let me.

It started when a friend of mine called me up. He said he was watching the news and he wanted to get tested for HIV. It’s funny how these newscasters often lace the truth with their own opinions. The thought that this disease has become endemic to us night crawlers is hardly fair. Now everyone everywhere is scared. My own mother told me I should leave soon if I wanna make it out alive. I would’ve chosen awareness over fear when it comes to educating the public but if my friend is any indication, the latter is often faster and more effective.

I’m not scared of it. I don’t know why but I’m not. I can understand why some people would be though. After all, our society is not exactly that welcoming to people living with HIV. He wanted me to hold his hand metaphorically and physically as he got himself tested. Suddenly, I envisioned my friend and me in a scene ala The Hours. I was Meryl Streep visiting Ed Harris, trying to be hopeful but gently succumbing to the hopelessness of the situation.

“If you think about it, we’re all dying anyway. In one way or another, we’re all going to bite the dust. Do you really need a bunch of doctors telling you when?”

“But wouldn’t you want to know?” he asked. “I saw this thing on When Harry Met Sally. Billy Crystal said that when he buys a new book, he always reads the last page first. That way, if he should die, he would always know how the book ends.”

“That’s silly. That’s like saying everything prior to the end is unimportant. The ending is just one part of the story.”

“Wouldn’t you want to read your last page?” he asked.

“Are you saying you want to read your last page?” This conversation was starting to confuse me.

“If I have it then yes, that would be my last page. I wanna be sure my book is as thick as possible. I’d start living healthy. Stop drinking, smoking, maybe start eating more vegetables. I don’t know.”

“Why don’t you start now? I mean, today’s as good a day as any. Why do you need a deadly disease to tell you to start making better choices?” He was quiet after that. My neck started to hurt from holding the phone against my left shoulder too long. My fingers held the page in the book* I was reading. I should really buy a bookmark.

“I think you’re scared,” he said. I thought the line had gone dead. Good thing he finally said something. “Your mind is telling you to fight it and that’s not a bad thing. I mean, I’m scared too. That’s why we should do it together.”

I told him I’d think about it. That’s when the signs started coming. I started becoming more aware of my mortality with each movie I see*, each song I hear or even with certain blog posts I read*. It took me some time to realize it but yes, I guess I was a little scared of my future. Did I have a reason to?

I was cleaning my room when I saw the book I was reading the day my friend called. It was under my bed. I must’ve dropped it one night when I fell asleep. I dusted the cover a little and tried to find the last part I got to read.

I don’t know what got into me but I suddenly flipped to the last page.

She was here because he said he’d run away with her, and she believed him- believed, for a few brief, intensely sweet moments, that she was something special, one of the lucky ones, a character in a love story with a happy ending.

Would I have a happy ending? As they say, there’s only one way to find out. I picked up my phone and called my friend.

“Let’s do it.” I said when he finally answered.

“Do what?” He sounded like he just woke up.

“Let’s get tested.” Though I could not see him and we were miles apart, I knew he was smiling. Would we still be smiling after everything is through?

Photo Credit: positivism.ph

Ra Ra Riot
Dying Is Fine
The Rhumb Line

48 comments:

  1. true. but to live a fairly decent life, one has to forget about death.

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  2. cb,

    fiction ba ito?
    go, get tested.
    at least, may support
    system ka kapag nalaman
    mo result. pwede ka namang
    mag-back out kung di ka pa
    handa. make sure, may counselling
    session before ka i-test. malaking
    tulong yan.

    gudlak,

    pb

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  3. it's partly fiction. and yeah, as a member of the BPO industry, i must get myself checked. lol

    thanks pb! :D

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  4. I decided that I will die by the age of 34.

    I made a booboo. I accidentally rejected the comments you made on my post. Please please please post it again :)

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  5. true we're all going to die,but i dont want an ugly death like being hit by a truck and my bones and brain scattered on the road LOL or having cancer till my body was deformed by lesions i dont want that.

    im HIV- i passed the test before going here in doha.

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  6. just like you, i noticed that i've been writing about death or dead people alot. which may be a sign of something.

    anyway, if you do go through with the testing, I wish it will turn out ok for you. =)

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  7. sometimes i scare myself thinking of death, but i start to imagine that it tastes of frap and looks like Eugen Bauder, i always end up convinced death is going to be a great fuck, i mean ride..... then i'm not scared anymore. :)

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  8. But death is an eventuality. We are all dying, in various degrees and copious rates. Its all a matter of focusing on the journey, and never the destination.

    Also, HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence. It shouldn't be. Pity is the worst one can bestow, indifference and stigma the next, to someone who's positive. Some of the most colorful and vibrantly living people I know are positives.

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  9. I think I will die of sickness, pero definitely not aida or something. haha

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  10. @menthos ~ that's a morbid thing to say. re:my comment, can u tell me what i said? i don't wanna recreate it. baka may part na nalimutan ko. it may be in your email pa. sorry, memory gap.

    @mac ~ that's good! at least it's one thing you know. di pa ako nagpapaschedule but i have a lot of friends na willing maging escort. lol

    @engel ~ thanks. ewan ko ba. uso ata ang death.

    @yj~ i envy you. it's not death per se that i'm scared of. it's dying alone and under the ire of many people. idk why. hmm

    @red ~ how true. it's something i wish to apply to my daily life.

    on it being a death sentence, i totally agree, it shouldn't be but society is often cruel. and yes, pity is the worst thing we can do but it's the natural impulse of people. here's hoping that more awareness will do the trick.

    @chyng ~ that's scary. *knock on wood*

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  11. "As a member of the BPO industry, I must get myself checked."

    So true, so true.

    And because I'm a man and I like men, I must get tested too. :)

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  12. i think there's never a perfect reason to get tested. u just have to at some point. unless you're a nun or something.

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  13. guillain-barre syndrome would suffice.
    para pareho kami ni Ex-bf.
    hehehehe.

    am not, im actually excited to die, para habang maaga, makapunta friends ko, ang hindi pumunta, eh di ako dadalaw, i have an infinite or rather xxxxx days to visit them.. ONE by ONE...
    mga blog hoppers kaya?
    hahaha!!!

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  14. what's guillain-barre? *googling*

    "mga blog hoppers kaya?" ack! wag ganon!! that's scary! lol

    saw once sa tumblr, pag namatay daw siya, ayaw niya ng RIP. gusto niya BRB. hehehe

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  15. kaya ako nag-iingat talaga. i will have sex to the ultimate one.

    i am not afraid of dying, pero wag muna ngayon hehe.

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  16. yupyup! mabuti nang nag-iingat!

    sabi nga nila, we all have to do it at some point. harapin natin ang death with no fear. :D

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  17. "We move inexorably towards death from the moment we are born."

    The rich, dark irony of that statement from one of my old Philo classes still tastes like moist devil's food cake to this day, Nyl.

    It was a riddle. Were we born only so that we may die? The answer I arrived at in our reflections was that while death is inevitable, life is not. Some people never live their lives at all, or spend it trying to stave off the inevitable.

    Few people ever get to know how much time they have to spend. Whether having a good idea of your remaining time on earth is a blessing or a curse depends on how you view life and death itself.

    Which brings us to the subject of getting tested. Would we have the fortitude to deal with a positive result? It does sound like a veritable death sentence despite the fact that there are an infinite number of other things - not just sickness - that can end our existence every second that we breathe. But the stigma attached to HIV is like that once reserved for lepers. It is not a disease that automatically inspires sympathy, but rather its opposite.

    To be gay is already to be an outcast. And to be gay with HIV is to be a diseased pariah, to recall the morbidly tongue-in-cheek title of one gay man's early, self-mocking, but not self-pitying chronicle about living his life with the disease.

    And I'm rambling, just like life. So let me bring this comment to its inevitable end and say that confronting one's mortality is not necessarily a bad thing, Nyl. It should make us appreciate that we still live and breathe at this moment in time, and value all the other remaining moments - however long or short - that the fates have determined for us.

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  18. very well said, rudeboy. i think i peed a little while i was reading it. jk

    "But the stigma attached to HIV is like that once reserved for lepers. "

    this is so true and it's something that i was thinking of saying pero i didn't have the guts to. thank you.

    hindi dapat ganon. i used to think i had a very open mind as well but then someone close to me was diagnosed positive and i couldn't help but feel awkward.

    "To be gay is already to be an outcast. And to be gay with HIV is to be a diseased pariah"

    and i can't help but hear a voice in my head that says you deserve it for being sinful. blame it on my childhood. that and the fact that i have waaaay too much guilt.

    "It should make us appreciate that we still live and breathe at this moment in time, and value all the other remaining moments - however long or short - that the fates have determined for us."

    my dad always says "kain baboy, patay. hindi kain baboy, patay. edi kain nalang ng baboy!" as he chooses the fattest juiciest pork chop on the plate.

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  19. not always. imho, it's just like in the movies. if u keep guessing how it'll end, you're never gonna enjoy. you just have to forget about it and allow the end to come.

    i was gonna quote lenka's the show but then i remember what effect that has on you so.. lemme think..

    ooh liz phair. "you gotta throw ur hands up and let the night come." it's kinda like that. keep living, forget about dying. that's just how i see it. :D

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  20. Your dad's philosophy hews close to my own, Nyl. As Joe Jackson once sang: "Everything gives you cancer."

    There was a funny T-shirt slogan I saw which has become my mantra whenever fear threatens to engulf my whole existence. And it is this:

    "We avoid risks in life, so we may make it safely to death."

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  21. "We avoid risks in life, so we may make it safely to death."

    and that, i think sums up everything we discussed. haha we want to be safe not because we're fixated on death but because we're merely aware of it.

    it's confeeermd. i did pee a little. lol

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  22. you see, acknowledging death really says nothing about how it will end, just that it will end. i don't agree with that avoid risks statement. i think people avoid risks because they are in denial of death -- and thus, avoid life.

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  23. @ LOF : You got it. The statement is actually an admonition rather than advice.

    It is my mantra not because I agree with it, but because it reminds me that when we risk nothing, we risk everything.

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  24. Would we be considered alive if none of us died?

    I've had too many close calls and each one marks an opportunity to thank God, and try, with all my might, to live better.

    But if my time came sooner than I expected, I'll be so pissed if it's not from a tsunami hitting all of us in 2012. I don't wanna die alone.

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  25. dumbledore said, 'to a well organized mind, death is but one big adventure.' true. we shall never fear death.

    love is more powerful than hiv or aids. we must remember that.

    ehe. naalala ko tuloy yung song na live like we're dying. LOL

    nakoo, mukhang marami akong dapat ikwento senyo ni biktor. LOL

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  26. it is always part of human nature, to be afraid of the idea of death.

    but when is mature enough to accept certainty, its just a cherry on top of the cake.

    lets sing, you are not alone. hehehehe

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  27. yep, i too am scared of dying alone. the funny thing is when you're face to face with mortality, you wanna be alive... more than ever.

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  28. @rudeboy: i think my original point and my disagreement about the statement/admonition is that avoiding risks is not "making it safely to death" its pretending that it doesn't exist. death is part of life. of course, i haven't failed to see the irony in a bunch of adolescents to 30somethings speculating about death.

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  29. @LOF ~ but what good is having a firm idea of death? isn't that a morbid way to live life? i just think if u keep focusing on how your life will end, it'll pass you by.

    i suppose it's because i'm at this age. if i were in my late sixties, i'd probably rethink my position. ;)

    i don't think it's pretending it doesn't exist. it's choosing to ignore it, i suppose. it's a stupid thing to do since it'll eventually take us all but if it'll help me live my life more easily, i think it's worth a shot. lol

    i love how you and rudeboy made me really think. even more than the thought process behind this post. lol

    @rudeboy ~ "when we risk nothing, we risk everything."

    not really 100% sold on this idea (although i know my belief in a concept doesn't really affect it's real-ness haha).

    @glentot ~ "Would we be considered alive if none of us died?"

    i guess not. so again, opposites are there to remind us of the other's existence. we need black to prove white, evil to prove good and so on.

    as for 2012, don't sweat it. malay mo it comes tomorrow. we never know. lol but one thing's fosho, i don't wanna die alone either.

    @yas ~ unfortunately, love is in short supply these days. lol

    marami na ba? kelan ko maririnig mga kwnetong yan?

    @darc ~ thus the surge in plastic surgery. don't worry. if you're that adorable, i don't think you'd die alone. :D

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  30. Most of the mystical traditions put death front and center. Don Juan made Carlos Castaneda aware of the fact that death is always just behind "that rock behind you." I think keeping death within the reaches of one's awareness wards off a certain kind of false pride that denies one's humanness.

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  31. i'm all for awareness. i think it took me some time but i got around to understanding why it's important. i just don't think i should always keep death in mind to live a normal life. i guess i know me too well. i'm not mature enough to.

    err i think i just contradicted my previous comments. lol

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  32. yes, its not a morbid fixation on death.

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  33. I'm sort of thinking about death lately. Gaaahd the signs are everywhere. Haha

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  34. @LOF ~ yay! we finally agreed! :D

    @Yohan ~ i know right! it's creepy how the signs are everywhere. i thought it was just me. i guess when our senses are hypertuned towards death, we can see it everywhere.

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  35. Naku i-enjoy lang ang buhay. Haha. Kung mamamatay, edi mamamatay. Kapag may second chance, edi maganda.

    If we were given a second chance to live, then we must really appreciate life more. Relish anything what's served in front of us - whether they are sweet or bitter.

    I'm also planning to get tested. The problem is I don't have time, really.

    The concept of death doesn't give me a chill. In fact, I find it interesting.

    Clap clap for you, nyl!

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  36. "Naku i-enjoy lang ang buhay. Haha. Kung mamamatay, edi mamamatay. Kapag may second chance, edi maganda."

    so true. hehe live life to the fullest and all that.

    "I'm also planning to get tested. The problem is I don't have time, really."

    actually yun din problema ko ngayon. haha

    ang daming taong naiinteresado sa death no. i guess it's in our nature to learn about things na hindi pa natin malalaman. that's why fortune telling is so popular.

    thanks for dropping by, ronnie! :D

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  37. Sorry about my comment. I was trying to be sarcastic, but I didn't think it went that way. Haha.

    I agree. I just hate all these easy generalizations about specific groups, the sudden correlations to HIV/AIDS. I know it has some form of basis, but what I hate is that it becomes a reason to discriminate, to equate one with the other.

    For me, the logical reason to get tested is to know, and to arm yourself with the proper knowledge of your status. Independent of your profession, your sexual orientation, your age, etc.

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  38. BTW, the discussion here is amazing! Whew.

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  39. "For me, the logical reason to get tested is to know, and to arm yourself with the proper knowledge of your status. Independent of your profession, your sexual orientation, your age, etc."

    couldn't agree with u more. problem is, i'm not / i wasn't sure if i want to arm myself. haha they say information is power. sometimes i feel like i'm not sure if it's a power i want.

    "Sorry about my comment. I was trying to be sarcastic, but I didn't think it went that way. Haha."

    I got it. i teeenk. haha hold on lemme see what i wrote back. (hmm) judging on the nun statement, i could be mirroring your sarcasm. *shrug*

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  40. I just hope that before I die I will fulfill my purpose in life. And what is that? Uhmmm I'm still on the process of figuring it out. But I guess, life after death is much more interesting than the thought of death itself. So just live life and be happy :-D

    Walang kwentang two cents LOL

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  41. hindi kaya siya walang kwenta. i think if more people thought that way, the world would be a better place. i wish i could be as optimistic as u, jepoy. :D

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  42. I think about dying everyday. Hindi naman ako masyadong morbid noh? Hehe. Dying is something I look forward too. Life on earth is shitty, and I'm crossing my fingers the afterlife is much, much cooler. Imagine life without work. Awesome! :D

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  43. di naman masyado. lol

    my faith taught me that the afterlife is way better. unfortunately, i live in the present so the future is not of much use to me yet.

    life without work? that's exciting. :D

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  44. death is unknown that's why it is scary. people say that we'll all die, and they are right. but still we don't know anything about death.

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  45. true. apart from some folks in the bible, i don't think anyone's died, come to life and lived long enough to tell about it. lol

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