The Circle of Life

“All things die. Your grandmother, she’s going to die. Soon. All your friends? Dead, eventually.”


Photo courtesy of Andy Morris

(Knock, knock)

Hello, son. Your mother told me your turtle died. That’s very sad. Poor Toby. I just wanted to come see how you’re doing with it all. Maybe have one of our man-to-man talks.

You should know that it’s okay to feel sad or scared. Because death is really, really scary. It happens, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

The good news is that if you’re scared of death, you’ve skipped a bunch of pointless fears about taxes or global catastrophe and arrived at the worst thing in the world. Good job on getting there before everyone else! That crushing sensation in your chest? That’s just the fear of death giving you a little taste of what the real thing feels like. But you should take comfort in knowing that the very worst thing that can happen absolutely will happen. Almost a relief, isn’t it?

All things die. Your grandmother, she’s going to die. Soon. All your friends? Dead, eventually. Especially that Garrett with the asthma. And yes, you too. Death is just a part of life. The end part, mainly. Yeah, however the absence of something can be “a part” of it, that’s how death is a part of life.

What I mean to say is that death is natural. It’s the end of one sort of nature, and the beginning of another. A much worse kind. Like when the lion eats the zebra, it’s sad that the zebra gets killed, but then the lion gets big and strong and has little baby lions, and the Circle of Life continues. You liked The Lion King, right?

Of course the baby lions die too. But hopefully they live long enough to grow up and have babies of their own, and it goes on and on until the sun explodes, and then all the lions will be dead, and all the other creatures, and no one will ever know they were alive. We should watch The Lion King tonight. That movie’s pretty good.

Nathan Pensky is a writer and editor living in rural Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter.