After a lingering illness that took his mind, his bodily functions, his personality, and his dignity, the husk that used to be my brother in law finally lost his life. Within a year, I have lost a brother suddenly, and a brother in law slowly. I’m feeling quite mortal these days.
I had a friend who contemplated suicide a few years ago. She was in her mid 30’s, widowed, suffering from depression; she quite rationally looked at the possibility of 30-50 years of pain and suffering, and nearly ended it. She has not told me what stayed her hand; I once thought it was the realization that, whatever this life holds, it is “better than nothing”, and that is the choice. Watching my brother in law, I realize how naïve I was to think that.
It is perhaps understandable that I have been watching Christopher Hitchens as he fights his cancer. He has retained his intellect, his wit, his self, through great pain, discomfort, weakness, and cancer’s best attempts to steal his dignity. Storms, landslides, illnesses, lunatics with weapons… there are so many different ways to die, and none of us get out alive. … I’m not going anywhere with this, just free associating. Like I said, I’m feeling mortal. Hug your loved ones.
If you ever get the chance to visit me in the hospital (very unlikely, I’ll grant you), bring me the oldest bottle of scotch you can find, and a bottle of pain pills. If you can talk me into taking both, then it’s likely for the best. If I refuse the pills, have a drink with me, and we can have a great talk.
And visit frequently. Just in case.
Oh, yeah, right, a verse…
There once was a man who, with pride,
Said he’d never let dreams go untried—
So he spent ninety years
Building hopes, taming fears,
And then—far, far too early—he died.
This post is likely not going to stay up for long. I just had to say something somewhere. So if it vanishes, it doesn’t mean you were hallucinating. Or, to be honest, that you were not.