I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.
Roger Ebert, from his piece in Salon, “I do not fear death.”
I always liked Roger Ebert. I don’t think he was a genius film critic, but he was a good film critic and an excellent popularizer: someone who gave a damn about movies, who cared about both serious art films and fluffy Hollywood entertainment, and wanted all of it to be the best it could be. Maybe more importantly — to me, anyway — he was a really good writer, with qualities I particularly admire in a writer: he was clear, down-to-earth, thoughtful, passionate, light-hearted, and funny. He was unafraid to deliver unrestrained smackdowns: his “I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie” and “Your Movie Sucks” are among my favorite works of film criticism ever. But he was equally unafraid — a more rare quality, unfortunately — to deliver praise, exuberantly and unabashedly.
And he faced his illness and impending death with wisdom, calm courage — and no reliance on religious faith or a belief in an afterlife.
I’m getting weirdly teary-eyed now. Read the whole piece. I suspect it will become a classic in humanist writing about death. Thanks, Mr. Ebert.