I always get a chuckle out of the new girl’s reaction when they realize just what kind of a shipgirl I am.
And, inevitably, they awkwardly hover around, thinking – wishing – daring, and yet not so daringly – want to ask me the question. I know, because I can tell what they’re thinking.
I used to just outright tell them, but nowadays, I think I’m a bit mellower. Or perhaps I am simply growing anti-social. Who knows, really. The Abyssal War looms on the horizon, and the best I can say about our preparation is that it’s adequate. Yes, adequate, for what we have.
“What’s it like to die?”
… That’s the funny thing, isn’t it? For all intents and purposes, I’ve never “died.” My memories are extensive, but even I cannot recall every instance, every failure, of a world swallowed up by the Abyssals. A looming maw there, a flash of brilliance here. Sometimes it’s utter darkness and the sensation of the world closing in upon you in deathly silence, other times it’s a cacophony of color and noise that overwhelms the senses.
Yet as always, moments later, I am here again. Somewhere, at some time period, with all my experiences and expertise and memories intact. I suspect it’s a bit of a mutation of the proverbial dragonfly metaphor. Whatever happens to us shipgirls at the moment of death, or destruction of the world, or whatever else, we cease to be in the conventional, mortal, or human (all of which I italicized because I don’t quite know which one is most apt) sense. Our journey here has reached its destination.
But our journey itself? Well, I am still here, am I not? So clearly I’ve ways to go, places to be.
But insofar as me being able to communicate my experiences, I’m afraid the only thing I can tell you is the life we have “as is.” Like a dragonfly, there may very well be a heaven or hell which I may or not have experienced, but just as the dragonfly cannot return to the underwater world of her birth, I too, cannot describe to you what it’s like to be anything other than human.
At this point most are satisfied. They nod, smile, say thanks, curiosity sated. A few of course have lingering questions, almost all of which are in some form of “how do you endure?”
How could I not?
Yes, life is full of sorrows and tragedies. Some days this burden – of defending humanity – feels intensely meaningful, and loss is most painful when it is personal. Sometimes the moods of the winter months catches me on an off day too, where I feel like a gardener – hopeless and helpless against forces beyond my control, like a freak hailstorm or a flock of crows or Chester’s baseball.
But there is joy here in life. Lots of it, all around me – if we only bothered to stop and look.
The solemn winter is not the only season in the world, you know. There is the hopeful spring, the passionate summer, and the bountiful autumn. Then come the next year, and the cycle repeats anew.
Trite, isn’t it? Good thing no one’s ever going to see this entry. “Jer should hire a proper speechwriter” is a very common complaint but you know what, I like my trite just fine, thank you very much.
Of course I have reasons to continue on. If I did not, would I still be here?