Life is, for lack of a better word, a jerkwad. He's a Grade-A POS and SOB. He may argue otherwise, and he may even appear otherwise, but you know what they say, even the Devil can appear as an Angel of the Light. Life is no exception. If anything, he is perhaps the cruelest angel (or devil) of all, a true liar and deceiver of the nations. He, being the entity that he is, can come in any way he pleases. He transcends reality itself, he is an idea that can take on a physical form. He is what happened when an action combined with a concept.
Now he often takes the form of a handsome, early-adulthood male. Upper class, wealthy, White, cis-het, intelligent, polite, educated, powerful, successful, charming and a proper businessman and gentleman. He knows all the latest trends, he is very relatable and charismatic, he is everyone's best chum, and he is the warm and boisterous guy that happily attends every wedding and baby shower he can! He's a partier, but not to an obnoxious excess. He's just the jolly buddy everyone loves. He's the center of attention and life of every event, and the world adores him for it.
But enough about him. What about me? Well, I am not nearly as pleasant. I am Death. And in the same way Life can transcend reality, so can I. I was also brought forth when an event combined with an idea. Likewise, I can also choose any appearance that I wish. The normal rules that bind mortal creatures have no power over me. And I, like Life, enjoy the fluidity of my powers. At the moment, I masquerade as a young woman attending college for the first time (even though I've attended every little last institution in history), and I take upon the persona of someone who is quiet, friendly and sweet, but very shy and introverted. I much prefer to be alone. But do not mistake my self-imposed isolation for misery or hatred. I like to consider myself fairly approachable, if you're brave enough.
Life, meanwhile, is a professor at this college. He always tries to choose the best of any demographic he settles into. But honestly, all of it is only an act. As entities beyond the realm of human comprehension, we already know everything that there is to know about the world. College does nothing for us except help us pass the time as we continue to drift along in our existence. Our jobs as the bringers of life and death may be full-time jobs, but again, our transcendent nature allows us to be everywhere all at once. There is no rush to bring life and death. It just happens. And whenever and wherever it happens, we are there as well, inherently present on the scene. Our human roles are only to please ourselves and pass the time. It is where our conscious forms choose to reside, though we both have since proven that we can have multiple active minds all at once. Not quite a hive mind, but something similar. I told you we were pretty far above human understanding!
But I did not just come here today to introduce myself to you, for I am sure that many of you already know me very well. My brother and I aren't exactly strangers to humankind. No, instead, I came here to ask you to change your mind about us. Don't see me as a monster anymore. Don't see me as the fearsome specter, the grim reaper, waiting in the foggy distance to steal your soul and drag it to the afterlife. And don't see Life as a god and hero anymore either. See me as a guide and guard, protecting and caring for your soul as it passes on from this world to the next. I carry you gently down to eternal rest. I aid the lost. I am the one who sings and rocks you to sleep, pulling the covers of the Earth over your body for one final rest before you enter a deep, dreamless respite. But Life? Well…
Like I said, he is a jerk. He does not create, he only brings forth, and then he takes credit for it. You can see him, celebrating himself and dancing through joyous ceremonies and births, living himself up and stroking his own massive ego. It is I who comforts the lost, broken, forgotten, wounded and grieving. It is I who wipes away tears. It is I who kneels before man. But what does Life do except laugh and party? And his laugh is not always jolly either. Sometimes, it is a cruel and sadistic laugh. It is the laugh of a monster who knows all mortals must bow to his every whim. It is the laugh of a tyrant. It is he who decides who will stay with him and remain alive, or who will be cast out and sent to me…
Oh yes. You heard me correctly. It is not I who can decide who lives or who dies. It is him. It is Life who calls the shots. When it comes to human life, I cannot take or steal. I can only receive. It is Life who casts out, or throws away. Until he gives the word, I can do nothing but watch. Until he allows a human to pass from the Land of the Living to the Land of the Dead, I am powerless. It is why some deaths are so long and violent. It is not my fault, Life simply chooses to keep those poor, suffering souls trapped in their pain for his own amusement. And only when he gets tired of them does he finally pull the proverbial plug and allow me to swoop in to save them from their suffering. Were it within my power, all deaths would be quick and painless, but sometimes, Life doesn't like to give up the ghost so easily. So he plays with his toys before finally throwing them out. That's why humans can endure such agony and torture before dying. Life refuses to let them go. But then once he finally discards them, it is I who catches them and carries them away to peace, safety and rest.
Yes. That is right. I am no thief. I do not grasp, grab, clutch or steal. I receive. Life is the cruel master who decides how much time you have left. Do not mistake him for a loving god who loses victims to my clutches. It is quite the opposite. I rescue souls from his greedy grasp. But only at his granting. I hold no power of my own in the Land of the Living. I am not the fearsome monster with the scythe, but the grieving friend awaiting your safe return to me, where I can take far better care of you than Life ever did.
After all, why do you humans say things like "Life gives you lemons" or "Life's a bitch and then you die" or "Life screws you over" or "Life just isn't fair" unless, on some level, you really believe that Life is a monster? Maybe you humans do understand after all that Life is the true villain here, not I, and yet you still stupidly insist on painting me as the bad guy.
I do not care, but it is to your stubborn and incorrect belief about Life that continues to shroud me in darkness and wickedness, even though I have only ever had your best interest at heart. It is I who sacrifices myself for you, not Life. He doesn't care about you at all. But I do. It is I who finds you no matter where he throws you away. It is I who finds you even when you think the rest of the world has forgotten you. It is I who cradles and comforts you. It is I who truly loves you. I will accept you no matter who you are, but Life will play favorites. Why do you think life expectancy can vary based on demographic even when everyone lives in similar conditions?
And while Life attends parties and christenings, I attend funerals and wakes. I stand beside hospital beds to comfort you and the family you must leave behind. I am the one who takes care of them in your absence. I am a shoulder to cry on. I am the one they can come to for solace and protection after you pass. But Life flits from one person to the next, hardly caring who he passes in his madness. I am the one who takes the extra time and care to linger after Life has gone. It is I who will sit beside you at the graveyard while Life parties at the church. He ignores and rejects. I remember and love. I help shoulder your grief. He only seeks out pleasure and joy. I lead you to safety, Life leads you to suffering.
And think now, too. Humanity will revere Life as the god of all. No matter where in space or time, humans love life. There is nothing wrong with that, but when the love becomes an obsession or act of idolatry, that's when the trouble starts. In my opinion, the fanatical worship of Life is far more deadly to humanity than I am. I am useful. I cleanse the world. But what does Life do except spread fear about me, and spread chaos and pain amongst his subjects? He uses that power over you to sew discord and distrust and discontent so that you fight amongst yourselves for his own amusement. Your fear of me is so great that you go to impossible lengths to stay alive and Life relishes every second of that fruitless fight. By always casting Death as a villain, Life becomes a weapon. And he knows it too, and he loves it.
So I implore you now to rethink your beliefs about me. I am no monster, but a guide and guard, an advocate. I do not deny that I have a thankless and dirty job, but I would not trade it for anything in all of reality. I enjoy the comfort I can provide, both to the dead and those left behind. It is I who cleans up a suicide, or a rape, or a murder. It is I who comforts the victims, living and dead.
But it is Life who gave the decree for the heinous act to take place. It is he who finally cut their cords. It is he who decided that they were no longer worth the effort. While I wait, and catch, he dismisses and destroys. Life is the one who decides when to give you up. He decides when he no longer loves you. And he can be the one to make your death long, slow, painful and violent. I have to clean up that mess every single time.
It is a draining job, but it is mine, and it is far more rewarding than Life's job ever could be. His is a hollow, soulless job. Nothing but a sham, cruelty hidden behind benevolence. Do not let him fool you any longer. Life loves no one except himself, but I love all. I am fair, and kind, just and gentle. When you meet me, I will be in a form you are comfortable with. I will be gentle with you, and I will sing you to sleep. Life may reject you, but I won't. You will be safe with me, forever and always. I don't judge or discriminate. To me, you are all the same and are all equally wonderful. I am Death, but I am no monster, nor a reaper. I am your servant and friend and equal, forever and always. When I finally come for you, do not fear. See me as a friend, waiting to carry you to safety, and don't be afraid to let go when Life finally decides to cast you out. I will be here. I will always be here. So don't be afraid, not anymore…
AN: Now I'm philosophizing about Life, Death and their portrayals through history. In particular, this was inspired by the painting "Döden" ("Death") by Janis Rozentāls.