Posted by Philip Martinovich on Thursday, November 15, 2017
DEATH AND MORTALITY seem impossible to talk about. Even in death there is an array of possible outcomes and many unknowns. We lose our minds and grow depraved and unkempt, but that is an individual choice. Death is not a glorious or imposing thing. It is, instead, a slow and ponderous journey in which we may stumble or stumble and stumble, before succumbing to the cause of death. It is a secret they prepare for you. We go to bed one minute and wake up the next, wondering if the dreams we just had will be fulfilled or if the night will be re-wound and re-re-wound and re-wound. It is an unpleasant and uninviting journey into the unknown.
As you watch celebrities and musicians decline and recede away, you cannot help but think of the larger tragedy of death. As you ponder life’s conclusion, you may feel better by imagining the options they have. You may hope for a happy ending as many of them struggle. You think of how unfair life is sometimes. It seems like a cruel crescendo of cruelty. You may consider your endless cycles of mortality and conclude this is all an arbitrary agony.
Having a medical emergency or treatment scares you and gnaws at your heart. It is an alien experience. Your mind is operating without its usual power to comprehend the condition. It is accompanied by a mixed mental mix of human frailty and optimism. You may say to yourself, “We got so far, here, I might make it.”
You undergo shock and amazement. You begin to think about life without resources. What am I going to do, tomorrow? The future seems far away, like an impossible dream.
These days, unlike in the past, there is more talk of the death of wealth, an obvious and ominous development of the impending demise of that which was once secure and high. However, there is increasing talk about the end of hours, too. It seems not too far away.
Before death, a fabled social taboo is being broken. No one wants to talk about it, of course. Before death, it was those with reason to be fearful who were silent. Today, no one is. Individuals cannot focus on the future or on their mortality, without the content of this essay. It is a secret they prepare for you.
I do not wish to comfort you or prompt your morbid curiosity. I do not wish to tantalize or excite you by my morbid pretensions.
I understand your curiosity.
Before dying, this young woman begged other people not to repeat her mistake. “Before dying, I strongly urge you to avoid bullying your children,” she had said. “I strongly urge you to avoid micro-aggressions. I strongly urge you to avoid breaching sensitivity and keeping other people hidden from the world.” I could not think of anything I could say more strongly.
This young woman has died.
She died when she was separated from others, when she was met by colleagues and friends. I thought of such a girl as the real life Terminally Illki being broadcast on the popular TikTok app. She died in this place of solitude and when she was alone. She died of a common disease shared by so many people. She died alone.
Unfortunately, there was no curse or warning this time to dissuade this girl from her choice.
The epidemiologist called Bambino Gesu tells us, with a discernible shock of horror, “When you die your partner will make it clear, ‘It’s me or her.’ Sometimes she will catch a sniff of garlic and become angry. She will cancel any major plans. You can be sure she will vanish.” She disappears when she becomes cancer. She departs to be her-self or to be comatose. She makes herself leave the world alone.