The Succession

The Succession

A Story by Camila Arango

A call. The simplicity of calling one’s name came out as a tangible product of frailty, something that made him indefatigable. “Ca…mila” slow and resolute came out the words that pertained to my name, his words gave the walls,  cleansed with the scent of death, birth and uncertainty, a magnitude that filled the walls with words never to be heard again. He laid there, eyelids shut tight, uncomfortably stupefied, indifferent to the grievance perpetuated in the room. His placid nature, the unreal seemingness of death itself, loomed over the room as a timer waiting to tick to the last second, using time as a distortion of human emotion. He enveloped death itself, within his soul there was an oasis of serenity amidst the affliction of those he dearly loved. I was a bystander to it all, I sat there within the arms of my mother, listening to just my name, wondering why this stranger, foreign to my eyes, called me repeatedly. I was significant to him but he wasn’t significant to me. A stranger who was entitled to being my grandfather, was lying, unconscious calling my name, and as I sat there I was indifferent to the pain death brought, something that was thrown morbidly upon my eyes. He knew it too, we shared the mutual feeling of the comfortable serenity that death brought. He was in his stages of dying and I was in the stages of life, flourishing and growing as a child. He was death and I was life, we were in the same room and we coexisted, death calling upon life and life listening to its calls, we acknowledged each other and there was tranquility upon us as life witnessed the paradoxical unfolding of death itself.

In the narrow room there was a colossal window adjacent to the bed he laid in, the window displayed the picturesque view of the rustic rolling farmlands. We were on the highest floor of the building, the view with its beautiful mountain valleys, peaks and meadows, life progressed in its continuos flow below us while death enveloped within the limits of the narrow room. The wooden bed, the rusty chairs, the old worn down canvas that displayed a sunset concurred the presence of death. It seemed at that time that the objects were alive, that death almost made them real tangible beings. The objects magnified death’s purpose as a kind of tranquil event for both him and I, and a troubled event for those who dearly loved him. He still kept calling my name, begging me to come and feed him “sopita”, I refused because I knew there was an invisible barrier between us, something that made us unmistakably different but obscurely similar. Hearing his requests, my mother forcefully took me over to him and settled me down next to his lap. I started giving him “sopita”, but he starting spewing it, he was choking, his breaths shortened, life filled his lungs in and death fought back. He displayed a short-lived experience of joy beside me, I was petrified and he was contempt. He savored life’s last few spoonfuls of reality as I glimpsed at the abundant soul of death. 

Loved ones mourned as if he were already dead, they saw him as a lost cause, something already lost in the void, unreachable within human limits. They thought of death as an ultimate failure, a devastating blow in which dust is made. Nothing is left. They thought it as an incineration before ash, in which it was the final reduction to nothing. They made it seem as if his death was anonymous, distant, anecdotal,  and statistical. They were indifferent to the meaning of death. Death isn’t something to explainably avoid because its a burdening event to experience, but death is the culmination of life, the most solemn and important in the life of a man. It springs within our soul, it is the death that originates within us the same second we’re born. It is not to be seen as the mourning ceremony of those deceased but as a celebration of the succession of life. What differentiates life and death? Doesn’t life and death both represent the start of something new? What makes people celebrate death with sorrow and life with joy? 

He was choking shortly after our encounter, spewing soup everywhere he was groping to the minuscule portion of life left within his body. Nurses rushed in, helped him regain his posture and brought him some cold water. First he started spewing saliva, then soup, and right after blood, death slowly starting to engulf him into the void people would then see him in. I gazed at him with understanding and he looked at me back with welcoming eyes. The nurses then told us to leave the room, we left and that was the last time I ever looked upon death’s eyes. There was no need for words to be spoken, we had acknowledged each other’s presence.

Death, fragile and bold, familiar and unfamiliar, seems to be such a paradoxical event in life. The cessation of life but the start of another one. The serene and calmness produced within the dying individual but pain and sorrow in those loved ones. Death isn’t the product of old age but a product of oblivion, the disregard and forgetting of life. It took me until this very day to figure out that death isn't the complete opposite of life, death is life’s companion, it accompanies life every day, it is born within one’s soul and is present waiting to engulf you in its tranquil void. There is no unmistakable difference between life and death… that’s what the human mind perceives, rather life and death are obscurely similar. They coexist, they watch each other unfold into an individual. Death isn’t internal decadence, it is internal succession of the completion of life. I wonder what it would have been if death wouldn’t have taken my grandfather into its void, I wonder if we would ever have a good relationship. But as I flourish now as an individual, I know that he is in the tranquility of death’s arms. 

© 2014 Camila Arango

Author's Note

Camila Arango
Ignore grammar problems, I would love to hear more about how I can improve this essay content wise. This is one of my narrative essays from AP English and I thought it was good to post on here. Thanks!

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Added on November 19, 2014
Last Updated on November 19, 2014
Tags: narrative, death, succession, decadence


Camila Arango
Camila Arango

Cornelius, NC

cam // aspiring to travel the world // luv 60s french pop & swing music // avid tea drinker & history enthusiast// i put much more meaning to life than there should be more..