I never thought about how I would die. To be fair, I never thought about how I would live, either. I just drifted from day to day, month to month, year to year, as unchanged by the passage of time as the West Virginia mountains my family had mined for generations.
Then one day, 25 summers had passed me by and I was in my car, winding along Route 9 to Paw Paw for some errand. A deer jumped in front of my car. I swerved to avoid it, and in so doing swung out over the barrier and dropped some hundred feet all the way down to the Potomac.
I’m not sure how much time passed between my death and when I came back to myself. Everyone expects some great change, for death to be a paradigm shifting event. Maybe it is for some people, but not for me. I’m sorry to say that in the first eternity of my afterlife, my existence was as dull as it had ever been when I was alive.
It was hard to complain, though. All the pastoral scenery of the countryside was more peaceful that I could’ve ever hoped for. The forests and fields were brighter, and the nights bluer and filled with more stars than I’d ever seen, even during my life located so far from the light pollution of the cities.
Sometimes in the distance, the clouds would gather in the sky, high, high above the mountain ridge. And even though I knew better, sometimes I’d think they made up an even taller mountain range, as towering as the Himalayans or greater.
Most of the time, I was alone. My mama had been a church-going woman and had tried her best to get God in me. Like most things people tried to get me interested in, it didn’t stick. But I remembered my Bible stories from Sunday school well enough; I often found myself wondering if this was what Adam had felt like waking up in Eden.
I didn’t hold out hope for an Eve – or a Steve for that matter. I was alone in this little world of mine, with only the occasional wandering wildlife to keep me company. But it was good enough to go from day to night and back and forth in peace and quiet, enjoying a limbo in the valleys and glens. There were no pressing needs to eat or sleep, no need to do anything but enjoy. So I did, for a very short, very long time.