This morning I woke up and I drove to school. And the air was cool and clean and I could feel fall coming. And I wondered if, on our deathbed, right before the end, we closed our eyes and went back to the happiest time in our life. If our eyes saw no priest, or empty alley. No relatives holding their breath or a dark hospital room through milky eyes but we saw with the crystal clarity that is only possible through rememberance of true happiness, the best day, the best hour, the best second, of our lives. Where he lived up in the mountains with his young wife and made love to her every night and somedays they stayed up talking until the early sunlight streamed through the window. Or where she swam in the small pond in the woods where the water ran so clear she could see the millions of colors of the rocks and the plants and the fish that swam inches from her. Or simply when they stood in the doorway holding eachother for twenty minutes straight with no talking, not trying to kiss, no moving, and absolutely no selfishness. I wondered if the last second, we looked back and we saw it was all worth it for that one time. To be really happy. And though we all may not die in a happy room or in a serene way, and though some may be crying and be in terrible pain, that last moment will be one of home and happiness and a sense of being found.
And if I were there when Rudy was sleeping, the bomb about to hit, I'd say to death, "I know you. And I know humans haunt you and the terrible things they do. But cradle his soul in your arms, not over your shoulder or hanging from your fingers. Hold him like you held the children from the gassing chambers and hold him like you held her little brother. Hold him like he's just the lemon haired boy dreaming about the kiss from the book thief next door. Walk with him down what's left of Himmel Street and hold him in your arms while she finally kisses those dead, bomb burned lips and I want you to cry. Because you'll never get a vacation with humans. And because I know he makes you cry, the boy who wanted to run like Jesse Owens." And I'd look death in the face and I'd know him. I'd see every sky and every color he's ever seen and I'd cry with him for the glorious and terrible human race.*
*If confused, please read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak in its entirety.