It was the middle of the night and I woke from my sleep. The demons had come back. The fear in my gut was real and it was strong. I lay in my bed hugging myself tightly to stop the trembling. I sat up, put on my bedside lamp and looked at my hands. They were very young, smooth and unblemished. As I looked at them I envisioned myself 50, 60, 70 years later. I could see these beautiful young hands spotted with speckles of brown, wrinkled and with thin, dry skin. And I felt my mortality. Though I had never seen a human death and never been to a funeral, I knew that someday I was going to get old and someday I would die. Death was fearsome and final. It was incomprehensible to me, as a pre-teen, that this could actually happen. But I knew it would and, other than dying young, there was no way I could stop it. Sometimes my mind went to the grave, to cold and dark and alone … and to decay. With time I learned to quickly grab a book and read, read, read until I fell into a deep sleep. In the morning I was able to push it all from my mind.
Sometimes I went weeks, sometimes months without experiencing this episode of fear. But many times during my youth this would come back to me in the night. How do I get rid of this fear? I didn’t feel I could talk with anyone about it; death wasn't something that was talked about. I was probably the only person in the world who just couldn’t get it together concerning death and my personal eventual demise. I had no one to turn to, nowhere to go. It was like a hound, biting at my heels, coming at me unexpectedly; but always at night.