Death entered quietly, as she preferred. All too often her arrival was heralded by screams and explosions. But this was a quiet night, which allowed her to perform a quiet deed. Life was precious. It should be honored. Especially at its end.
Her client was laying on his side, his breathing labored. His eyes opened as she approached. One of his legs twitched, an instinctive reaction to the knowledge of her approach, but he didn’t otherwise stir. He had known she was due, soon. And in any case if he could still run, she wouldn’t have been there.
Death lay a gentle hand on his head. “It’s nearly time.”
Though she had not used words, he understood her. That was a relief. He often had trouble communicating with his loved ones. It was frustrating when they misunderstood him, or he didn’t understand why they did something. The ease of perfect expression was a gift, and he felt it make his fear fade.
“Do I have to go?” He knew the answer, but had to ask.
Death nodded. “You do. We all do, eventually.”
Death smiled, and nodded. “Oh yes. Sometime, I too will pass on. When there is nothing left to die, I shall cease to exist. But that is a long, long time from now.”
He sighed. “I… I had things I wanted to do, yet.”
Death shook her head. “Of course you do, but I don’t wait. And you’ve had a longer life than most, filled with more love than hate, more pleasure than pain, and more happiness than grief.”
“Grief.” The idea was not one he had ever considered much. “Oh… my family! They’ll be sad. I don’t want to leave them.”
Death nodded. “They will be. But that is just a tribute to how much you brought into their lives. Grief is part of life. And you gave them more than enough joy to see them through their grief. In time they will heal, and they’ll find new family to love.”
He felt his energy fading. “The boy. The boy won’t know what to do without me.”
“No,” Death agreed. “He won’t, at first. But he’ll learn. He’ll grow. You prepared him well. And you’ve earned your peace.”
He exhaled, for the last time. The pain, he admitted, had grown to be more than he wished to bear. “Thank you for letting me know.”
Death nodded, kindly. And removed her hand.
The cat lay still, his time done.