We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Friday, May 2. 2008
From our mens' Bible study this morning:
If you had one chance to learn the time and mode of your death, would you say yes or no?
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Of course I would!
I could setup a timeline and setup some great goals.
I've learned that deadlines are great motivators!
Very interesting question, BD, at least at the outset. My first impulse was to agree with Phil and say "No way!" But then, as Jon noted, there'd be some read advantages to it. If you found out it was going to be the next day, then you could run hog-wild and live life to its fullest, but, by the same token, if you found out it wasn't going to be until you were 101, then you could kinda relax about a number of things.
Which, of course, brings us to the point why it's not an "interesting" question, but flat-out nonsensical, because if you found out you weren't going to die until 2030, then does that mean you can walk in front of a train and know that somehow, someway, the train is going to jump the tracks just before it hits you? You're now immune from death until 2030?
Or, if you were told you "have until 2030, provided you continue to live your life as if you didn't know the end date" (like, no jumping in front of trains), then how would you be able to tell the difference? If you were about ready to do something with an element of danger to it, wouldn't you have to stop and ask yourself, "Now, wait a sec. Am I doing this somewhat dangerous thing because I know in the back of my mind that I have until 2030, or would I have done this anyway -- simply because I'm an idiot?"
The next time fortune-telling comes up in Bible class, I suggest you note aloud that the Nostradamus class is just down the hall.
...and just beyond Nostradamus class, there's DrM's Ice-Cold Logic class, where all the students are depressed.
I, already, know the time. Sometime in the next thirty years, at the very, very most. A blink of the ol' eye. The mode is more of a question. With luck, a bullet to the back of the head, unexpectedly, like Kennedy, still in control of my faculties. Without luck, the rest home. With a little planning, maybe an Oregon assisted suicide.
One could survive a great number of potentially fatal events.
My goal, as with bob, is to be in full control of my faculties when I die. Or, as the Native Americans used to - dream a dream, spend the next day saying good bye, then go to sleep that night.
Many people cling to life as tight as they can and they see themselves with tubes everywhere. I see me as just going to sleep.
I've already lived a great life. All of these years are icing on the cake. When I go, I'll be happy - just as I am now - regardless of what transpires in between. Not because what comes could be better or worse, but because what I've had has been beyond fantastic.
(btw, I'm only 41)
Thanks for the kind words, Buddy. I try.
Bob - I'd be keying in on the word "senility". Want a quick story?
Years ago, my mom and her mom and a sister went to visit an aging aunt in a rest home. They looked at pictures and sang songs and had a great ol' time.
As they were leaving, my great-aunt pulled my mom aside and said, "I'm sorry, dear, I've had a wonderful time today, but...who are you?"
So, if it's gotta be the rest home, better to be senile and having a great time every day meeting new people and learning new things. "It's called a 'TV'? What a great invention!"
No. What a formula for killing hope and meeting the goals of that hope.... including the hope that I die without lingering or being a burden on someone. Who needs the frenetic thought repetition day after day?
On the other hand, knowing might get me to set up the LLC that I've put off for years.
Good question for inward thinking. What if the mode of death was a car wreck. You just wouldn't drive that day. So a big truck busts through your living room while you're watching "American Idol". ew.
Well this is not a very light or casual subject but life is not a video game or a comic book. Have spent a little bit of time with old people and/or terminally ill people who pretty much knew approximately where and when they would die. Also have a friend who lost her young son in a car accident. She told me she was a bit jealous sometimes of folks whose loved ones are diagnosed as terminal. Said she would give all to have had her son die that way so she could have said goodbye. Her candor was startling. At that time, I had never really considered that.
Think I might like to know. Wonder if those who would know get to repent too at just the right moment. Might be comforting. One BIG confession and then, goodbye.
I'd never want to witness and nurse a loved one who knew he was dying. I could not stand knowing their suffering included the sure knowledge of their death. I do understand the mother's sentiments, but those sentiments can be ameliorated by never letting a loved one leave without a hug and without saying "I love you". Same with letting a child go to bed unhappy. Never, never let it happen. The last words he should hear from a parent is "I love you".
I'm a little biased because I nursed my mother for months as she lay dying of cancer. There is an awkwardness to saying 'Goodbye' because you don't know exactly when death will come. By the time it does, they're so out-of-it, your wishes are hardly noted.
If one of my kids died in a wreck, my first question would be, "Did they suffer and know they were dying?" The grieving is left to the living.
You make a good point Meta... about last words. But sometimes distance prevents the closeness you'd like a final good bye to have. And of course you usually don't know when the moment is going to be anyway.
My first words, after the anguished scream, of hearing that my mother had just died unexpectantly... but *&%$... I didn't get to say goodbye.
I'd probably be a yes...
For some, being there when they go - and offering those last words - isn't worth the indelible image of seeing those last breaths, hearing those last wheezes. I'll never forget them.
I keep pictures around of better times - healthy loved ones having a good time. I don't have a framed picture of a bald woman with tubes everywhere. (rude, I know, but it is an intentionally blunt point) I have pictures of hugs, smiles, and great memories.
If you've lived your life in such a way that they know you love you, then those words are necessary and being there to offer them would be more expensive than valuable.
At the risk of being blunt again, being there when someone else goes is a bit selfish. Unless being there helps to ease some physical pain, it is all about the survivor being able to say goodbye. The one who is leaving is usually out of it anyhow (as mentioned).
Forgot to mention my Stihl saw's name is Grim Reaper.
Me? I don't want to know the time and mode. Too much God-like knowledge. As long as it isn't drowning or beheading, I can deal with it.
i heard Grim Reaper's nickname is "been sitting in the garage for the last three years".
Which death? I have ventricular tachacardia- life threatening. I died three times so far and I didn't like it one damn bit. I now have a pacemaker/defibrilater and take meds. So far, so good. I haven't died in four years.
sean, what did you see, if i may ask such a crude question?
My wife says at the time I said I saw the proverbial white light. I can't remember now.
BL wrote in an earlier thread of his dad saying, "well, we just assumed we weren't gonna make it --when you're already kaput it gets much easier." That resonated with me…
As penance for my ‘restless’ youth I worked in a group home for fifteen years with kids just like me. A lot of kids don’t get through it because of drugs, alcohol, suicide and accidents. One kid in particular undermines my bliss. When I’m in that place where I keep this stuff I just want to puke my soul up and scream and shake until something gets in front of me that I can hit. A—was a beauty. She was sixteen, smart and gentle. She was a nice kid. The state in its wisdom released her to the custody of her mother after a stay in our program. It was too much for A—and she hung herself in the shower. F*ck…
Pop fought cancer for two years. The night before he died he didn’t want to lie down, I think because it meant he would be giving-up if he lay down. I stayed up all night and held a pillow for him so he could get comfortable. In the morning I couldn’t stay awake. I laid down at his feet to rest and he died before my head hit the floor. He saw it coming and he dug his heels in… The guy was a fighter.
I wasn’t alive before I got here, and I’m going to be dead when I leave. I don’t care about the details. I’m going to fire-up the grill and open a beer and get on with the business of living. (Man, what a dark frigging place this post brought put me in…)
I would have to say that from what I remember now, it was at first darkness, like when you pass out or fall asleep. Then it was very bright lights, which could be from staring at the lights from the vantage point of the floor. I am not sure how long my heart stopped during each episode, so its hard to tell, so its hard to tell when it was dark and when it was light and if there was some thing in the middle that I can' remember. All I know is that I didn't like it. I didn't want to leave this life so soon.
The one time I code blued in the hospital, I was brought back and they gave me a port with valium to calm me down. Boy thats great stuff mainlined. I grabed my doctors face and said: " Don't let me die. " I think I fell in love with his face because I wouldn't let it go. My wife and I laugh about it now.
My step-father had two pace-makers installed. He lived long enough to outlive one. Each time, they had to kill him to test it.
He said he floated out of his body and saw angels gathering the souls of the others who were dying in the hospital. He said; "There wasn't an angel near me, so I figured I was going to hell! So I thought, might as well make a ruckus! I started yelling at all of the angels to leave them souls alone - and they did! They put the souls back in the bodies! When I came too, the doctors said that I yelled those words while I was waking up."
He said the same thing happened when he died the second time, except he was expecting it and wasn't so surprised that he had no angel.
He wasn't a nice man - yelled a lot - and he served in Korea. Three of his four tent-mates had their throats cut one night 'cause the guard fell asleep. He fought with everyone - even me. But sometimes, late at night, when neither of us could sleep, we'd talk about things like this. Outwardly, it was all a bunch of bullshit. But on those late nights, he really, really wanted to go to heaven.
I didn't get to ask him what it was like to die the third time. It was probably quite like the first two, but this time I'd bet he had an angel waiting for him.
Have seen people, myself included, avoid or hightail it away from a loved ones sickbed or deathbed. My usual thought when in such situations is, I hate this. Can also remember my little brother at about 5, screaming and kicking when Dad tried to make him give our great grandma a kiss. She was in her 90's and not even sick, just really scary old. Brother is in his 50's now and is still that way. Something takes over and he might bolt. Can totally relate. Am always pretty sure that whatever the disease or the problem is, I probably have it or will have it, but think maybe everyone does that to some extent. Had never seen anyone die until 2004 and have been at 3 deaths since then including my Mom and Dad. Definately does not make for good dreams or fond memories. Still am glad I was there.
Felt like I died once. Fell over thirty feet from a tree. ha. Remember grabbing a branch that probably broke the fall. Went out cold when I hit the ground. Remember waking up too. It felt like being sucked backwards into life. I jumped up and ran like a deer for my own room. Had bruises from head to toe down one side but no breaks. Was young enough to bounce some.
One good thing I've learned from my life threatening experiences is that everyday is a gift from God. I think I appreciate life much more today. I get depressed from time to time because I know that I will never be as healthy as I was in the past, but thats just part of getting old anyway. Now, in one sense, as my cardiologist tells me, I'm immortal. The machinery in my chest won't let me die as long as its tuned up properly.
just fascinating, all this -- hope jephnol didn't get too bummed out. my mom & dad are gone and i'd give a year of my life for 5 minutes right now to sit with them together at the kitchen table and laugh like we used to.
"laugh like we used to"...
Was there more laughter in the world then, or is it just me.
"Was there more laughter in the world then, or is it just me."
-- If you look for laughter, you will find it.
True Jon. And then youth has a lot to do with it as well. And if you are lucky enough to find the right person as an adult... you can laugh all the time too. I just sunk into reverie thinking about what Buddy said.
I'm with _Jon, this side is for the living. You've got to smile brother... You're one of the good ones.
Thanks Jephnol. Though the same could be said about most everyone here... a good crew.
I'm not bummed. This stuff just put me in a mood for a minute. It's a place I have to visit every so often and today was a good day to do it. My wife told me last night that this was the one year anniversary of our dog's death, too. He was my buddy, so I came to the party already primed.
The way I see it, without getting too hellbent for specifics, everybody just might be getting together on the other side. I'm just not too eager to find out.
Hey--Patina, my sister couldn't walk up to dad's casket at the wake. I hear what you're saying...
''I'm just not too eager to find out''
one good thing -- if you're wrong, you'll never know it.
I know the feeling following these words of yours: "When I’m in that place where I keep this stuff..." I taught high school for 20 years, and a year didn't go by without a suicide or a horrific car wreck that left an empty seat in classrooms on a Monday. I had a kid who I reported to authorities as being suicidal. They took me seriously but it happened before intervention.
Reading your words made me think of the following Monday when I looked at his empty desk. It's hard to describe - but you did it well. And, odd as it sounds, thank you. That's how I felt.
The stories are tragic... Thanks for sharing what I know can leave you empty.
I wouldn't want to know. The time and manner of my departing is in the hands of the Lord. The real question is, am I prepared for that? Scripture teaches us it could happen today, so we should always be ready.
i'd give a year of my life for 5 minutes right
Buddy, I think like that alot lately. My father died 44 yrs ago and my mother died 18 years ago. When a picture is not near, I almost forget what they look like. I do forget what their voices sounded like. It would be great to press rewind and go back and see how things really were, not just our impressions of faded memories.
Time and mode...time and mode ...time and mode
No .... balls to wall until time and chance catch up to me.
it's hard to understand why it's so painful to lose a loved one. it's out of bounds to what you would think, being as we all well know we all have to go. it's got to be something like, we actually are constantly creating a new self, and this renewal is what makes life interesting, but we can only really know whether or not we're doing ok at it, through the witness of a loved one. then when you lose that person, you really actually do lose a you, too, the loved one and you made a unique irreplacable story, and it just stops in the middle and that's it. you had been working on that story all your life and suddenly it's finished.
shit i have to quit this i'm getting fricken morbid.
But Buddy, that same 'story' can be lost in other ways as well, no? That connection, that opening up of the heart, that shared film... and suddenly it's empty space. A vacuum that takes time to fill. Well you're not 'being' morbid... and sorry if you are feeling that way. It is a subject most of us don't spend much time talking about. Maybe for good reason.
I have this story to tell. I had a wonderful aunt, my third parent. When she was 96 she was living with my family and got pneumonia. I got her to the hospital in time, and they saved her life, not that she wanted them to particularily. Anyway she was as sick as you can be, all tubed up, black and brown all over. That night she began to talk to herself about 'beautiful music, beautiful stars', just that, 'my what beautiful music, what beautiful stars' with such emphasis, like she couldn't emphasize it enough. She was in her own world, not communicating with myself, or the nurse.
This went on for maybe six hours or more. She pulled through, and was in a rest home after that. I never asked her about it, and she never said anything about it. I don't think she recalled it. When she did die, two and a half years later, she was under some heavy pain killers, and just died.
Your story blew me away. During my mom's last weeks, I had to give her nebulizer treatments four times a day. She'd 'disappear' during the treatment, and one day she came out from one and said, "I heard the most beautiful music! It was a full choir and orchestra playing crystal clear "Nearer My God to Thee". She was so enraptured and during coherent moments would ask how long before she got to hear 'the beautiful music and singing' again. She said once she felt as if she were in the middle of the orchestra.
No, I am not in control. Meta and Jephnol I know the sence of helplessness, and loss you feel. My sister committed suicide 21 years ago. A part of me went with her. I feel like many of you who have commented "If only I could have her back for five minutes". Just to say good bye.I dream of her alot, in my dreams she is always silent, The only time she spoke to me was a year after her death. She appeared to me in a dream and I commented to her that the hole in her head is gone. My mother was with her and my mother was holding my sister's child. The only words she said were, "Jim, I love you." After that dream I knew she was okay and it took me years to recover from her death. One really never gets over that type of loss, we just try to go on and do the best we can. Some day I'll see her on the other side and repeat what she said to me.
"What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet,
to me, what is this quintessence of dust?"
Thus that which is the most awful of evils, death, is nothing to us, since when we exist there is no death, and when there is death we do not exist.
"The appearance of death isn't the experience of death."
Heard around the NDE watercooler.
My 84 year old mom never lost hope--not until the end when it was clear that local politics took precence over justice. She loved life and struggled on through multiple surgeries and a very nast hiatal hernia. She got into a dispute with the tax accountant and had a small stroke. When she woke up in the morning her speech and mind were fine, but they told her they would need to feed her through a tube in her stomach: she said, "NO, I always knew when it would be time--my time has come." She refused food and the local hospice people kept her pain free and sedated for the next few days. She woke up once and asked my husband--"Am I dead yet?" He said, "No mom not too late to change your mind." Her response:" Lot of people loose their nerve at this point--but I won't. Good night.". ENd of that part of mom's story. MISS HER MADLY