I’ve been thinking about death a lot lately, for reasons too personal to go into. The more I think about it, the more the subject finds me, and vice versa.
Last night I read in Anne Lamott’s book Plan B about when someone at her church was dying of cancer, and as part of coming to terms with her nearing death, she asked for her pine casket to be brought to her. But this scared her, so she asked if the children from the church could decorate it. (This was deemed too scary to put to the kids, but they made paintings and drawings which were pasted onto the casket.)
Tonight I’ve been reading my dear friend Tim Taylor’s three minute deathbed talk - what he’d say in three minutes to the person or persons of his choice if he were near death. In it, he addresses his parents and his young daughter. (This was part of July’s Silicon Valley Junto, which I attended - with Tim - last August when the topic was the rather more cheerful “Humor in the workplace”.)
I think often of Cathy Seipp. On my 30th birthday, she will have been dead for five months. When I spent several days with her a couple of weeks before she died, I overheard a nurse lecturing Cathy quite forcefully about how this country needs socialized healthcare (and enforced rent controls, and price controls on a pet food, and a bunch of other crazy stuff). Now anyone who ever read Cathy’s work or knew her can tell you that she pulled no punches. But with this nurse, she was unbelievably restrained - gentle, even. She asked the right questions, to which the nurse had no answers, and responded only with fury. I listened, aghast, but knew Cathy never needed anyone to fight her battles for her. She simply chose not to fight that battle, and I am certain this was not just because she was dying. Cathy always had a good sense of who was worth the benefit of her scorn, who was to be pitied, and who was so irrelevant as to demand nothing from her.
These were the last three sentences Cathy ever blogged (with regard, funnily enough, to the Weather Channel, Jennifer Garner, and global warming):
Amazing what can traumatize people these days. For me once it might have been the $7,000 plumbing bill I discovered today I need to pay. But really, all things considered, what’s the point of being traumatized by something like that?
Filed under: Life