This past Thursday my cousin abruptly died at the age of 48. Colon cancer, undetected until it was far too late, that slowly and methodically consumed her body. She lived six days past the official diagnosis, and the doctor—I can’t even imagine how the conversation went—-had little to say and provided no course of action to follow, save for an oral chemo pill that might buy her a few extra days.
As chilling as it would have been to be her in that office, being told there was nothing really to do besides go home and await your imminent death, it is actually a subject I think about regularly. Not obsessively, but enough such that her predicament resonated with me. We will all meet our own demise of course, and yet it is unlikely you’ll ever know how it’s going to play out until you’ve arrived at or near that moment. And to not be prepared for however it ends—to be caught unaware, as if the omnipresence of your own mortality had somehow slipped your mind—I find personally troubling.
To the extent I can plan for it, I want to. To the degree I can meet death with all the dignity I can muster, I will try to. With the hope of ending it all with a measured note of acceptance, of gratitude for even having lived at all, and with the acknowledgement that it is the definitive end of my existence.
On a side note, ”As I Lay Dying” is supposed to be a tragedy laced with comedy. But I found nothing funny about it.