Chapter 1: It Started When I was 6
At the age of six, most children are learning to tie their shoes and read full sentences. Many children can even spell their first names and draw a very accurate depiction of their homes(At least I think they can, but I’m not a licensed pediatrician, so don’t quote me on that.)For the most part, the age of six is an exciting age full of learning and discovery. That is of course, unless you’re a six year old with a unique inquisitive attraction to death.
This was me. It is nearly impossible for me to recount a time where I was every truly afraid to die, and at the age of six, I was more interested in the possibility of exploring the afterlife than I was in conquering a milestone like tying my shoes. I can’t say exactly how my interest in death fostered, but I do remember being fascinated by it even at a young age.
I believe my initial interest was spurred because of my parents’ strong religious convictions. I was taught at a young age that people who believed in God and were faithful went to Heaven when they died, and Heaven seemed like a much more interesting place than the world I found myself in. I was so intrigued by the concept of Heaven and being able to see God in person that at the age of six I attempted suicide.
Now, if we look at my attempted suicide from the standpoint of pathetic fallacy, which is one of my absolute favorite literary devices, The day I chose to try and commit suicide didn’t scream “Let’s die today!” in the least. It was actually a bright and sunny day with birds singing and bells ringing. My Aunt had flown over from California to visit, and we had taken her to get a tour of Heidelberg castle which, like many castles in Germany, sits high up in the cliffs and overlooks a small city beneath it. After our lovely little tour, we had walked out onto a promenade where we could look out and see the city beneath us.
I remember standing there, thinking about how far away the ground was from high up in the cliffs. I thought to myself, “There is no way somebody would live if they jumped.” And then I saw my chance. When my mother wasn’t looking, I climbed up onto the ledge that separated me from the jacked rocks below. I was just about to jump when I heard my mother begin to scream.
“Brianna! What are you doing?! Get down from there!”
Attempted suicide foiled. Before I had time to react my mother had forcefully pulled me down off of the ledge. When she finally let me go, she was staring down at me with a look that expressed equal amounts of fear and deep concern.
“Brianna, what were you doing?”
“I was going to jump.”
“And why were you going to do that?”
“I wanted to be closer to God.”
I don’t think I could have come up with a better reason for trying to jump from a castle, and this answer seemed to appease my mother slightly. The deep concern began to slowly dwindle, but the fear remained exactly where it was. “Don’t ever do that again.”
When we got home, I could tell my mother was still very concerned with what had happened earlier. She had been discussing the event with my aunt who now sported her own look of concern. All three of us were sitting at the dinner table having lunch when my mother asked me again why I had tried to jump.
“I just wanted be closer to God.” I said once again with a slight shrug. I didn’t really understand what the problem was. My parents were constantly talking about how we needed to pray and talk to God about our problems, and then once we died we would get to go to heaven to be with Him. I was simply trying to speed up that process.
I could tell by the look in my mom’s face that she understood the innocence of my actions. After lunch, she never brought up the incident again. However as time went on, I found myself reflecting more and more on that day, wondering what it would have been like if I had actually jumped. My curiosity of death lingered more and more after that fateful day, and it only grew stronger with age.