Creative Writing – Justin Lau

Death and life are opposites. Death cannot exist as long as life thrives, nor can the spark of life be reignited if death has taken over.

Marvin feared death. He did not dare to admit it, but death was a prospect that seemed all too frightening to his slowly aging mind. Marvin displayed a facade of carefreeness and lightheartedness, but age and sickness was taking its toll — Marvin had but only a precious few weeks before his cancer would end him. Marvin was scared that his death would mean that he would be forgotten, that his death would point out that he had not left any mark on history. He was not rich, nor was he famous.

Marvin hated death. He hated that death would eventually force him to leave behind everything that he cared about, everything that he loved and everything that he cherished. Death would snatch away from him his friends and his hobbies. Death would take from him his beloved wife and children. Death was the ultimate insult and the most terrible punishment one could receive.

Marvin was at war with death, but it was an uphill battle for him. The more he struggled against it, the more that it seemed that Marvin’s defeat was inevitable. As Marvin grew older, he grew increasingly desperate to escape death, to not have his life be extinguished, to not have his spark of life rudely snuffed out. However, his disease-stricken body did not provide him with any reassurance. Marvin knew that it was his final battle, his last stand against Death.

The day eventually came when he knew it was his time to go. Marvin’s wife and daughters walked into the room, straight to the side of his bed. There was a conversation between the doctor and his wife, but the words were spoken too softly for Marvin to make out. However, from the moody looks of his children and the concerned face of his wife, he knew that it was ominous news. Marvin always knew that his chances of surviving the cancer were not promising at all, but he felt a sudden pang in his heart when he realized that it was finally going to end.

Oh, how Marvin wanted to live! How he wanted to remain healthy! However, death wasn’t something that Marvin, or anyone else, could control. As Death stood over his bed, a single tear rushed down from the corner of his eye, blurring his vision. Abruptly, he felt a gentle finger wipe the tear from his face and he found himself looking at the worried face of his wife. The lines on her forehead and spots on her cheek were the only things that gave away her age. Regardless of her sorrowful expression, Marvin found himself looking at the same young, beautiful face that he first fell in love with. For the first time in years, the corners of Marvin’s pale mouth slanted upwards, producing a barely noticeable smile.

Every life must end at some point. Sooner or later, it is our turn to bid the world farewell, our turn to seek the heaven above. Marvin’s conscience was clear, and he had nothing to be ashamed of. He lived a proud life as a high school teacher, and he was always kind to those around him. His trustworthiness and sense of humor allowed him to be a good friend to many people. His death would not be the very end. He would be surely be remembered, remembered as a loving husband, as a responsible father, as an honest friend and as a principled, honourable individual.

Marvin looked up and stared at the face of his dearest wife. Even as the couple grew old, Marvin never ceased to be amazed at how beautiful she was, both in her kind, virtuous character and in her bright, sparkling eyes that lit up his world. Even if she was crying, she was still the brightest beacon of hope and joy in Marvin’s life. Marvin then slowly turned his gaze towards her twin daughters, marveling at how they have grown into such charming, independent young women. He brushed off the tears on their faces and displayed a genuine, reassuring smile. To this day,

Marvin can still clearly recall the day when he first saw their lovely faces innocently staring back into his proud, tearful eyes. He was grateful that in his final moments, his family was there with him to ease his pain, to share his burden and to keep him company when he most needed it. Marvin’s frown disappeared. After all, having the most important people by your side isn’t the worst way to go, is it now?

As Marvin stared into the face of Death, he found that he no longer feared nor hated the one thing that plagued his nightmares and kept him in fearfulness. He discovered that death, once his arch-enemy, was a rite of passage that each and every one of us will have to undergo. In the end, Marvin indeed lives a fulfilling life, and “a man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” It suddenly occurred to Marvin that death was not the enemy. It was having regrets and unfulfilled dreams that would bring him the most pain. Marvin’s life, though shorter than he would hope for it to be, was full of love, friendship and happiness, and that was all that he could ask for.

With a small smile, Marvin embraced Death. And as Death held his hand, Marvin was finally at peace with himself. Marvin found the key of untying the knot in his heart, the key to end the conflict within himself— to accept death. As Death led him away, up into the skies, Marvin was glad that he was going to be in a better place.


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