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The sudden end


When I was watching William Shatner’s documentary, “The Captains,” he talked briefly about brushes with death, and he related it to the death of his character, Captain Kirk, in “Star Trek Generations” (1994). He talked about how you may barely have time to realize that death is coming. Instead you watch, fascinated, as the beast is about to eat you, the building is about to fall on you, the ground is about to hit you as you fall. Then death takes you.

I thought to myself, how lucky are those people for whom death comes quickly. My friend S probably didn’t even realize he was dying as he flew through the air after he was thrown from his motorcycle. He just heard a thump, saw a blur, and then he was gone.

Then there is my friend J, who is slowly dying from brain cancer, a result of a metastasized skin melanoma. He sees death coming from a long way away. Every day it’s a little closer. I can’t help but think that he wishes it would hurry up and get here, and end his pain. Yet he stays because he loves his wife, and he treasures every moment they have together.

This is the longest life I’ve ever lived. I only have fragmentary memories of the other lives, but I’ve seen them. It’s probable that those lives are actually still in progress, presuming that all events in time happen simultaneously, and only the limited sensory ability of the human body makes it appear as if there is a past and a “now” and a future.

Darling wife, in comparison, has very clear memories of other lives, yet she insists that there is no existence after death. (I don’t ask her to explain her cognitive dissonance, because she can’t. If it’s not important to her to clarify the problem in her own minds, it’s certainly not important to me.)

I know that there are other existences, because I’ve seen them. So death doesn’t worry me particularly, except that I would rather have a death like S’s, and not a death like J’s. I want the sudden end, the end where I barely have time to realize that the transition of death is upon me, and I remind myself to pay attention to what happens next.

I just hope I have a chance to rest up before I have to start another life.

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