immortality is not for me

soon it will be time for me to pay the reaper his due.
i’ll have to stand before the LORD and ask that classic question:
“am i my brother’s keeper?”
(and if i’m brave enough, i’ll add: “or were You supposed to have been there?”)
was i supposed to know that my adolescent descent would reach its nadir
on that night in january 1999?

but that, of course, is just the beginning of the list
(assuming st. peter starts with the worst)
and then, there will be all the names of those i knew
whom i forgot to forgive, and lived with the grandiosity of an exquisite grudge–
my grudges were the most epic and important and insistent for satisfaction.

and then, there will be all the names of those who knew me
and remembered how i did them wrong, intentionally or otherwise–
in the end, at their end, is there really any difference?
now can you see why immortality is not for me?

can you imagine how excruciating it would be
to live endlessly among memories and men and women who continue to wreck you
if you don’t get to them first?
immortality would be the worst
possible curse you could curse someone with–
may you continue to accrue trespasses and debts, and write karmic hot checks,
slowly making enemies out of each soul you meet who inevitably
reaches that saturation point where they know you too well
and owe you too much and you owe them even more.

even locked away inside the most mountainous monastery imaginable
you would somehow manage to enrage your brothers or sisters
when you pass them coming and going from your cell.
even cast away on the most distant desert island all alone
you would encounter so many demons and imaginary friends
who would quickly come to know the real you all too well.

so, no, immortality is not for me.
i’ve already made enough enemies.
my trespasses, debts and sins have hopefully been forgiven
by all of those poor souls i’ll probably never see again
(at least not before judgement day, anyway),
but, who am i to say?

it could be that they, each and every one of them, has made a special case
of remembering my face (if not my name), and saying the LORD’s prayer
with extra special care, to make a clear exception
for that one fool they find to be entirely unforgivable.
or, (and this is more likely the case),
i have buried an exceptionally unholy grudge against some past
classmate, coworker, teacher, boss or family member
and it’s festered and oozed like a gangrenous cancer
in some area of my brain that is mostly inaccessible
and entirely out of reach every single time that i make time
to say the LORD’s prayer.

in fact, such a terrifying, soul-killing grudge has graduated
from being a mere misplaced thought-form,
and now roams about the underworld with other unhappy demons and devils,
waiting to be summoned on judgement day
to stand as a witness against my otherwise utterly forgiven and forgiving soul.
oh LORD, please let this not be so!
and, LORD, please may you also know
that any immortality in this life, this body, is not for me.

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