Monday, May 16, 2016

The Comfort of Death

For a few days I have been seeing cosplay photos of Death on tumblr and twitter. I think there must be a reason for all the pics, probably something to do with Mr. Gaiman himself, but whatever the instigating factor was I missed it.

It compelled me to dig through my old albums to find a photo of myself from Halloween 1997, which I promptly scanned, uploaded, and tweeted. NG retweeted it, as he has done with many similar photos, and people started responding with a like or a comment.

What I find wonderful about this is not the attention, which frankly gives me paroxysms of dread, but that all of these people are essentially celebrating death – a fairly uncommon occurrence in western society.

Which is why I love this girl, with her cheerful demeanor and friendly smile. She was the first personification of Death to comfort me, and I recall being intensely grateful to Neil Gaiman (and Mike Dringenberg) for creating her. She made the whole inevitable outcome of life seem less scary. Don't ask me to explain how she managed that small miracle.

Later, I would come to know and equally love Terry Pratchett's Death. The Discworld reaper made me laugh, wince, and weep at his humanity, and the idea of him consoled me when he came for his creator far too soon. (That's not altogether true. I cried loudly, embarrassingly, and with little provocation for weeks after Sir Terry left us, and still do from time to time.)

What I'm trying, ineloquently, to say is that I marvel at how these characters changed me. It is awe-inducing. I am indebted to their authors for soothing a fear (an innate, instinctual fear) I had never previously been able to reconcile. Along with, you know, being generally extraordinary and writing many of the best books I've read.

I'm telling you, folks. Books can change the world.


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