The Finality

I don’t like death. I don’t like the reality of it. I don’t like the finality. I try not to pass judgement on other people’s beliefs, at least not when they’re in a position to respond. But I think that if there is a god, death would make an excellent basis for a massive class-action suit.

That’s me, quoting myself quoting myself. I wrote a book where i’m kind of the main character, and that kind-of me said the above in the book, except that when he does he’s quoting me, because that’s a sentiment i’ve expressed a fair number of times over the years. If you’re one of the rare few people who actually knows me, you might have actually heard it at some point. So lucky you.

The reason those words are in my mind right now is that Colleen’s mom passed away very early this Thursday morning (aka late Wednesday night). Colleen’s mom had cancer (which i think would make an equally excellent subject for a class-action suit against god, as i can imagine the death case falling through on technicalities). Though she had been getting progressively weaker even before entering hospice two weeks ago, her condition took a sharp turn for the worse over the previous weekend (as was expected) and she faded pretty quickly thereafter (as was also expected). Though scared, she stayed focused and in good spirits right up until the point where the pain meds become all there is, and she had a number of old friends and family with her right up until the end. Colleen, myself, Colleen’s dad, and our girls were with her pretty much constantly most of the previous week, but in the end, she seemed to want to wait until she was alone briefly in the deep night to let herself go.

Louise was a fairly irascible person throughout the twenty-one years i’ve known her — overly opinionated, far too sharp-tempered for her own good, and carrying a ton of anger and animosity that she’d picked up over a long and often thankless life. And though i should have known better, i admit that i was surprised at how all of that stopped mattering to me over her last weeks with us.

Though she was an intensely creative person from a crafting perspective, Louise never cared much for the power of words. Her taste in reading began and ended with romance novels, and being a Canucks fan all her life was about as close as she ever got to appreciating drama. She was as completely irreligious as they come, and carried no secret hope of spiritual salvation to occlude the full understanding of what was happening to her, or the acceptance of where it would lead. And as such, i was surprised for a second time when Colleen and i were sitting with her Wednesday, and coming in and out of focus through the pain meds, she said the following to Colleen:

“I’m going to sleep forever, but I want ten more minutes with you before I go."

I dislike death a little more strongly this morning than i did when i first wrote the words above, or any of the times before that when i said them. But i confess that right here, right now, i’m finding some small amount of half-assed comfort in those words. Not just because they seemed to represent that in the end, Louise finally understood how important it is to be able to leave the anger and the animosity behind. But because i’d like to believe that in some small way, death makes poets of us all.