Friday, January 05, 2007

deep thoughts on death

I know it isn’t my “day” to blog, and I can’t even remember what our topic is this week.  What’s on my mind is the “end”. Not the victorious “THE END” we write after we complete a manuscript; I’m talking about the big end for all of us: death.


A cousin of mine passed away between Christmas and New Years, a person with as much life and vitality as anyone you’ve ever seen – until cancer zapped it out of her. She struggled long and hard against the disease and I greatly admire her courage. Near the end, when we’d go over to Hospice for a visit, she’d often tell us “I’m dying.” We were all a bit uncomfortable with this, and usually managed to say “We’re all dying.”


But now that the time is passed, I’m wondering if she felt differently inside. If she knew that, even though she was willing to continue the fight, her body was done. I wish I’d had that conversation with her, but again, it was an uncomfortable time, and there was no pressing ahead to get to the bottom of the mystery.


The truth is we are all dying.  Every day of life brings us closer to our own mortality.


Another relative is in the midst of being hospitalized for Alzheimer’s.  In lucid moments, this 86-year-old calmly says that he can’t remember things. And yet a few seconds later, he’s angry and shouting that he isn’t crazy. His body is hanging in there, but his brain has checked out.


All of this has me wondering about death.  Will we all have that moment where we recognize the end is here, or will it catch us unawares?  Will we face dying like a warrior or will we cower in fear?  For me, the answer isn’t clear cut.  I want my “end” to be blindingly quick and if possible, pain-free.  The thought of fighting a disease for 7 years like my cousin, and losing, doesn’t have much appeal. It isn’t death I’m afraid of, its pain and lingering between life and death.




Maggie Toussaint 



1 comment:

J L said...

When I was in my 20s a friend of mine died, terribly, of cancer. She'd been sick all her life (she died at age 28), and in pain for most of the time I'd known her. She really had no chance to live a normal life.

I think of her often. It's been almost 30 years since she died, but not a month goes by when I don't remember how terrible it was that she died as she did.

We are all handed a life to live, and some of us are luckier than others, and that's what it all boils down to. It behooves us to appreciate that and respect it.

My view of death is the same as that in a Carly Simon song:

Life is eternal, love is immortal, and death is only an horizon ... and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.

It is a new beginning, a closed door and an opening one. It is the last question.