Saturday, July 16, 2005

Planned Departures

It has been several days since Brenda posted “last rites” on Rubies in Crystal. She wrote that day inspired by photographs posted by Vexations. I had been thinking of last days, end-of-life departures, and the wisdom of the Greeks who, if I am remembering Foucault correctly, thought it more “civilized” to arrange for a dignified departure than to be taken by surprise, plundered, and beaten by death. I responded to Brenda’s poem and Vexations’ images that day with comments on Brenda’s blog: “Yes, yes, yes … let my final flight from this skin be in the dance, in the light radiant of love, in the fluid forever of dreams.”

(NYTimes) On Wednesday last William Wallace Hurt was sentenced to a 10-year prison term that would be suspended after one year. He had pleaded “no contest” in March to second-degree murder for having taken the life of Neva Hurt, his wife of fifty years and a woman imprisoned by Alzheimer’s disease. She would not have wanted to live that way, and Bill knew it. “It is the most difficult case that I’ve ever been involved in,” said Judge James Swanson from the bench. William Wallace Hurt is 84 years old.

My friend Louise recently placed her husband of more than sixty years into hospital care. Russ, too, was overcome in the shadows of Alzheimer’s, and Louise found herself slowly but relentlessly outnumbered by the possibilities of what might happen in any next minute.

Let me plan my departure. I am certain it would be better that way. “… the dance … the light … the fluid forever of dreams.”

4 comments:

narrator said...

We are too afraid of death in this culture of ours. I surely hope that I can "take myself out" at the moment I need to, and that, if I can't do it myself, someone will help, and won't suffer consequences for helping.

Brenda said...

Your response was pure poetry, Mary. It took my breath away. It was so close to the heart. I wasn't even able to respond, I didn't want to disturb the magic you had left. I hoped you would begin a whole piece with what you so eloquently composed there, and I see you have, you have...

One just hopes our wishes are respected by those who love us when we are too ill or too weak, and that after our deaths what we want to have happen to our bodies does.

In the community at Xanga a beloved poet is dying of stomach cancer and has been trying to blog through it; he's almost unable to continue writing now, and it may be close to the end.

Interestingly, a fellow blogger flew to be with him for a week, and helped him move into a hospice, and has continued blogging for him, asking for the places where we all live so she can create a map for him.

There are so many ways to give...

xo

Anonymous said...

First let me thank you for the link to Vexations and BrendaClews. If how I live is important, and I think it is, then how I leave this life is a critical part of that. I am reminded of the recent film that I just watched for the second time, Million Dollar Baby.

Mary Godwin said...

I'm grateful for the honest and thoughtful responses here. Brenda, I'd be interested in reading the blog of your friend. Please share. And Anon, links can so often be the surprize packages tucked into the blogging experiences, can't they. I found Brenda and the Narrator (see above) in similar fashion. Oh, and thanks for the tip on the movie ... not much of a watcher, but I'll check this one out. -mg