An inevitable fate,
Human’s not a foreigner,
Never once coming late,
It lurks ‘round the corner,
Between life and death,
Taking the last breath,
“What’s been on your mind lately?”, my best friend asks.
“You’re not seriously asking that, are you?”
I was pretty sure they knew what’s been bugging me these last few weeks. There was literally nothing else it could have been.
“Trust the process! I can’t start if you don’t tell me your troubles”. They giggled as they said that. How could they be laughing about it?
“I don’t have hope for the future”.
“I see. That’s a common thought amongst our generation, so don’t fret about it. Anyways, go ahead. Ask the deck your question.”
I look squarely at their tarot deck, lamenting at how oddly beautiful it is. Back when they started getting into this whole tarot card reading thing, the cards looked a lot more realistic. I believe it was the Rider-Waite tarot deck? I’m not too sure, I’m just going off what they’ve rambled to me about.
The cards they’re using today are way more minimalist. It’s basically lines on a white card, but it looks so elegant. If only I could actually understand what they meant.
“How can I survive on my own?”
My best friend spreads the cards on the table. In a flash, the neat pile of cards turns into a chaotic mess. After around 10 seconds of intense focus and hand sweeping, they press the mess of cards back into one stack.
“Er, I completely forgot. What was the spread you wanted again?”.
“Um, what about the one with three cards?”. I get anxious because I don’t know if there’s actual special terms I should know.
“Oh, are you sure? I was kind of expecting you to ask for a Celtic Cross”.
“The ten card one.”
“Ah, I think that’ll take too long. I don’t want to waste any more of your time…”
“Alright then, three card spread.”
My friend’s hand fans out the tarot cards in one motion. I pick out the three cards that speak out to my soul the most. The chosen cards are laid out side by side, face down.
“Let’s begin with what you can do to surrender to the change in your life”.
The card to the left is flipped open to reveal…
“Interesting. An upright Hermit.”
The Hermit is one of the 22 Major Arcana. All I know about it is the fact that it’s listed as number 9. And the fact that it symbolises being alone.
“Do you struggle with the thought of being alone at all?”
“I used to not think I could call myself ‘alone’. I mean, I had you, our other friends, and my family. But ever since I moved out of the house to go to university, I kind of feel myself losing touch with everyone around me, if that makes sense. Like, I know I can still call them, but living out there without them was more mentally taxing than I expected. And now… you…”
I really didn’t want to get all emotional and cry right then and there. Even as a sceptic to cartomancy, I’ve cried one too many times during these readings. I really didn’t want to admit it’s impacting me in profound ways.
“Take time after this to reflect on how you’re feeling and truly process it. Incidentally, this card hints at exactly that. The Hermit is someone who’s on a journey of self-discovery. Through the dead night and snowy mountain, he walks. His lamp illuminates only his next few steps rather than the whole path. It’s only when he steps forward towards the unknown that he is able to complete his journey.”
“So what you’re saying is I need to stop being afraid to look inwards, and do some soul-searching?”
“That could be a good idea. The path ahead is full of mystery, and yes, full of change. However, it would be best if you could do what you can to persevere through it.”
I nod in agreement.
“Alright, shall we move on to the second card? This card represents what you can do to care for yourself during this time. Let’s see what we have.”
The second card flips over.
“Four of Cups. Reversed.”
Uh oh. Reversed usually means something bad, right?
“Don’t worry, a reversed card isn’t all bad.”
Did they just read my mind!?
“Now, just as a reminder, the Minor Arcana cards usually represent more mundane parts of life. The reversed Four of Cups hints at retreat, withdrawal, and checking in for alignment. Maybe it’s asking you to take a break from social life?”
“Er, it seems counter intuitive, though. I mean feeling lonely is my big issue now, right? Why would I remedy that by being alone?”
“It’s not really about trying to be alone. I think it’s asking you to embrace loneliness, in a way. You don’t have to force yourself to adapt to your new social climate. Also, besides socialising, it may also be wise to assess your current and future opportunities, and fully assess it before immediately jumping in headfirst. Basically, take your time and don’t force it. Do you understand what I’m getting at?”
“I think I do.”
“That’s good! That’s progress, right?”
“Wow, you really make good use of your Psychology degree, huh?”
“Heh, when am I going to get the chance to use it, right?”
“Alright, last card. Are you ready?”
“Okay, here we go.”
“The last card is meant to serve as a guide to centre yourself in the midst of this change.”
Before the last card turns over, I try to think of what it’ll tell me. This train of thought was painfully cut short.
“Huh, isn’t that interesting…”
Death stares me in the face.
The moment I hear the word being uttered from their lips, I start feeling dizzy. In around 5 seconds time, I start bawling my eyes out.
“What’s wrong? Did I do something to hurt you?”
Their question doesn’t break through to me. The thought of death immediately broke me into a million pieces.
“It’s okay… let it all out…”
My best friend pats my head, which is firmly pressed on the table. I feel weirdly gross for displaying all this emotion.
“It’s about how I’m going to die in three days, isn’t it?”
The thing that has been hurting me, stabbing me in the heart a million times these past few weeks. Terminal illness is a nightmare, a nightmare that my best friend will soon be free from. Why am I feeling this sorrow?
When I heard they were coming home from hospice care, I truly hoped that meant the cancer magically disappeared.
I finally looked up to my best friend. Their look isn’t one of deep sadness. In fact, they smiled at me.
“How can you be so content with death?” I quivered.
“I’ve had months, years even to process the fact that I would die soon. You only found out a few weeks ago. You still need time to grieve.”
I calm down, slightly.
“When I die, cry as hard as you need to. I won’t tell you how to mourn for me. Just promise…”
They stop themselves from continuing that sentence.
“Let’s move back to the last card, alright?”
“The Death Arcana is often misunderstood as a curse. But, in my opinion, it’s one of the greatest cards in this deck. I’m so glad this card was drawn, truthfully.”
“How so?” I sniffled.
“Well, Death signifies the end of a major phase in your life. With Death comes new possibilities for something far more valuable than what you currently have. In life, you must close one door to open another. It’s going to be difficult to move on. Death is inevitable. It’s sudden. It can happen to everyone, no matter what your life is like. However, you may find that accepting the end of this current phase of your life will help bring you into a brighter future.”
“Future. That certainly ties this reading together, huh? Doesn’t your name mean “future”?
“You’re absolutely right, 未来 means future in Japanese!”
“Thank you, Mirai, for everything. Is it fair to say I love you? I love you so much right now.”
“I love you too! Thank you for accompanying me through a fulfilling life. I’m going to miss all this, I truly am.”
I really hoped time would freeze and we could stay in stasis, forever.
I’m crying a lot. I guess I expected that, but it’s still hurting me. That’s grieving for you.
I’ve texted basically everyone I know that I’ll be taking time out of participating socially. I need to take it slow and process everything. Lucky timing to be on term break now.
Death is a new beginning. I’ll be okay.
Before I left their house, they gave me a tarot deck to use. They taught me to draw one card at the start of the day if I needed some clarity. They even gave me a handy website to refer to. I’m a sceptic, but I think I’ll try doing it often. Not too often though, they specifically warned me to not do that.
In fact, I’ll try drawing one now.
The Fool keywords are “beginnings, innocence, spontaneity, a free spirit”.
That sounds really nice.
Written by: Haikal