Lesson 2: Surviving universal survivors' guilt.
People have always written about the way the world ends. This is not special in any timeline, and as far as I can tell, it isn’t unique either.
However, as much as each timeline muses over how the world ends, very little thought seems to be given to what happens to the sole survivors of the end of the world. What does someone do when they realize all of their friends and family are gone, or replaced with exact, yet slightly different versions of themselves?
I have found my personal approach to an answer in an old story a relative told me.
It’s the war to end all wars, they said. Out in the trenches, people were dying in the conflict continuously, and while everyone knew a relative could be next, they still hoped that their immediate next of kin would be spared.
Then came the knock at the front door.
As the elderly woman went to open it, she had hoped to find her son who had enlisted to fight on the front, and survived. Sadly, instead, she was met with a grieving officer.
He said he was there to give her news from the frontline.
She nodded and asked him to come in.
She set about making a plate of lady finger sandwiches and was about to set to making the refreshments.
The officer tried to utter those terrible words. The details of her son’s death.
She simply asked him if he’d like some tea.
He looked at her, stunned, and, somewhat upset, asked the woman, “I’m here to tell you your son is dead and all you can think about is tea?
To which she replied matter-of-factly.
“Dear sir, it is teatime, and regardless of the news it shall remain tea time, and regardless of knowing whether my son is alive or dead I have gone about the business of tea time, because the alternative to tea time is to lose myself to grief, to die by the death of my spirit. In short, to be a shambling corpse barely clinging to sanity.”
She continued, “Now, knowing what is at stake, would you like one sugar or two?”
Heed this wise woman’s words.
The answer to what to do the day after the end of all life?
Live as if you’re living, and loving, and laughing for the whole of your former reality.
Because you are.
The next lesson will be about keeping up appearances and staying strong for friends and family who depend on you, even if they’re not your original folx.
To be continued...