You know how when we're small we're blissfully ignorant of death, never guessing that there's end to this thing we know of as life. Even the death of our pets at a young age is often no more than a passing sadness - remember Poltergeist when the little girl's bird died and how as soon as it was buried her sadness was gone and she wanted a goldfish? It never occurs to us that one day it might be our body buried, our life ended abruptly and, perhaps, tragically. Most times we don't realize this until we're older, much older.
For me the realization came when I was around twelve or thirteen. I was standing at the end of my driveway, waiting for the bus, and I went to get the paper out of the mailbox like I always did, to read the headlines. And there on the front page was the most horrifying story I'd ever read. A young girl, 14, was found murdered, her head chopped away from her body and buried under a rock. It was at that moment I realized that death could come for me, too. And not when I was 90 and old and had lived a full life. It could come and snatch me - or anyone I loved - at any moment. Worse yet, it could be a horrifying death, not at all peaceful, not surrounded by those who loved you in life but possibly by someone who saw you only as a means to slake their own sick desires. It didn't matter how old you were, how cute you were, or even how good you were. There were no exemptions from death and no guarantee for the kind you hoped for. It was a crapshoot.
So, when did you find out the awful truth?