We’re here for such a short time. To operate day-to-day I try to push this fact aside and pretend that it’ll be ok. I will escape. Or at the very least my end will be peaceful. I’ll be ready.
The daunting truth is that we have no idea when our time will come. Will we be ready? What will we leave unfinished and who will we leave behind? Death is the end of all the conversations and meals and hugs that you will ever share. It creates an unfulfilled future without the opportunity to cherish another moment.
As i reflect on this I can’t drop the mental image of an animal in its final moments of struggle. As Radiohead illustrate:
Cracked eggs / dead birds
Scream as they fight for life
I can feel death / can see its beady eyes
All these things into position
All these things we’ll one day swallow whole
One day I will be the creature staring into death’s beady eyes and choking as I struggle to swallow the truth of the situation. Once it is too late I’ll come to recognise that time is up. I will share the confusion and anguish of that premature bird.
The other “natural” possibility is the fate of my Great-grandmother. After 99 years her life concluded in a nursing home; senile and waiting for Jesus to come and take her. Her last few years didn’t appear to be particularly dignified or happy. Come to think of it, in many ways it was the same fate, only drawn-out.
Perhaps this is one reason why parts of my brain continue to advocate the third option.
I’ll end this piece with a quote from David Foster Wallace:
The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flame yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don‘t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.