I've been doing a lot of reading over the past few days... or rather, re-reading... revisting books or stories where death is a central theme. One that has particularly stood out to has been 'The Orange Girl' by Jostein Gaarder. The story focusses on a 15 year old boy, Georg, who discovers a letter his now deceased father wrote to him before he died, when Georg was four years old.
The following excerpt comes from the letter itself - a really beautiful reflection on life, love, and what might come after.
'We can sit for hours just holding hands. Once or twice I've peered down at her hands, so gently and lovely, and I've stared at my own hand, perhaps just at one finger, perhaps at a nail. How long will I have this finger, I think. Or I've lifted her had to my lips and kissed it.
I've thought that this hand I'm holding now will be the same one I'll hold in my final moments, perhaps in a hospital bed, and perhaps for hours on end, until I finally cast loose and slip away. We've agreed that that's the way it will be, she's already promised me. It's good to think about. When I slip away from this universe, it will be a warm and loving hand that I let go of, the Orange Girl's hand.
Imagine, Georg, if there were a hand to grasp on the other side as well! But I don't believe in another side. I'm almost sure that I don't. Everything that exists only lasts until everything is ended. But the last thing a human being often clutches is often a hand.
...I'm scared, Georg. I'm scared about being thrust out of this world. I'm scared of evenings like this that I'll no longer be able to know.