“We run after values that at death become zero…”
The above quote comes from a documentary on hospice care. The process of dying reveals that death is just that: a process, like eating or anything else. There is no room for the why questions. There’s no reason for playing in the philosophy sandbox, searching for profound gems of meaning. It’s much simpler. It’s scary, and because it’s scary, it’s beautiful. Fear and awe, it turns out, are neighbors.
I remember looking at the cold dead body of Homer, the dog (a Newfoundland named after Homer Simpson) with whom I spent many of my formative years. He had to be put to sleep due to the large cancerous growth in his throat. He was suffering from pain, exhausted from the inability to breath. We selfishly waited longer than we should have, I’m sure, but it was hard to let go.
I had to carry Homer from the car to the table where he would be put to sleep. At around 200 lbs, this was probably the first time (and last time) that Homer let me pick him up without being able to resist. I love him. And the whole process of it left me numb. But what I remember is the paradigm shift in my brain when I saw the life drain from his body. Death became so real to me. Not like a chapter in a Camus novel, but an empty cold biological process void of miracle or meaning.
Life is precious, but it’s not anything more than the seconds from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep. That’s terrifying. But it’s also beautiful.