“We are all going, […] and it applies to turtles and turtlenecks. Alaska the girl and Alaska the place, because nothing can last, not even the earth itself. The Buddha said that suffering was caused by desire, we'd learned, and that the cessation of desire meant the cessation of suffering. When you stopped wishing things wouldn't fall apart, you'd stop suffering when they did.”
― John Green, Looking for Alaska
Yesterday night I met with some old friends, and since I’m leaving Mexico in just a few days, we decided it was a great excuse to go through old yearbooks. That’s what we did. We remembered unfortunate haircuts, braces, not-hypster-cool glasses, baby fat and awkward faces. In that moment it was all about us, every time we opened up a book, we went straight to our generation pictures.
By pure coincidence, one yearbook opened up on the photographs of a generation a year below ours. In that moment, a friend pointed out a picture of a girl; I remembered her instantly. I didn’t talk to her, she was a year younger than me and at that age it means a whole other level of life experiences, but I remembered her. For the life of me I can’t tell why I remember her, though. She had an Asian last name, maybe that was it. She had a boyish haircut, maybe that was it. She looked a little bit Asian, but not quite; her face was pretty and feminine enough to pull off the haircut. Maybe that was it.
“She died” my friend whispered.
Instinctively, I asked how. That’s what we do, isn’t it? Because we want to hear about a sickness that we’re already cured for; we want to hear about an overdose of drugs we don’t do; we want to hear about dangerous places we would never visit.
She died in a car crash about a year ago. No. Not a year. Months ago. She wasn’t driving; the guy who was wasn’t drunk. He lost control of the wheel for a few seconds and that’s all that was needed. She wasn’t even 21. I think.
I looked up the shocked faces of my friends. I could tell that all they wanted was to turn to the next page and pretend it didn’t happened. We did.
Or maybe I did not. I had trouble sleeping last night. I couldn’t stop thinking about the girl I didn’t talk to and that I never will. When I woke up, it took me just a few seconds on the internet to find the news of her death. According to the site she died instantly. It remind me about the main character of the book ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green. He rants about what an ‘instant death’ means; he wonders how long it really is and how awful the pain must feel like. I don’t know about the pain, but just a second of thinking “I’m about to stop existing” sounds terrifying enough to me.
As human being, as the selfish creature I am, I can’t help but think how it makes me feel. How it makes me feel the fact that ten years ago I saw her smiling and I had no idea she was going to die young and tragically (although, I’m being redundant, dying young means dying tragically); how it makes me feel that she must have been going home after a fun night; how it makes me feel that she must had had plans for the next day; how it makes me feel that nobody knew she would stop existing that night… And as selfish as it sounds, that’s all that is important now; how the living feel about the dead, because, even if the particles that conformed her still exist and, theoretically, will never stop existing, she as a whole doesn’t. She’s not aware of her death anymore, because she’s not aware of anything anymore. So, I can’t stop thinking about my own feelings about it, because that’s what we do.