Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Still Between Dust And Dust

At some point, the mature person who has already bushwhacked her way through all of life's other milestones begins to think about death in a non-fictional way.  That's all that's left, and it is moreover closer than it used to be. Some people have grand plans for themselves, but I don't. I figure on being a brief damp spot, followed, in a geologically insignificant amount of time, by a small heap of dust and flakes with no opinion. Don't be sad for me. I'm not. For those of us without even the staying power to be an all-purpose spirit drifting in stardust, thinking about death gets pretty specific. I just hope for the best during the endgame.

The way I prefer to imagine it, the act of dying will be a gentle thing, somehow devoid of panic. There will have been some sort of shift so that the mind is no longer afraid of being quenched. Ideally, things will just wear out and I will slip from this life without stress or embarrassing emissions. I gave the concept a practice run the other night when I got sick.

Not sick sick. Just one of my peculiar colds in which the symptoms occur all out of order or maybe some of them don't manifest at all. In this case, I developed a blatting baritone that was only minimally sexy and began to want to cough recreationally most of the time. No sore throat. No congestion. It was merely annoying until the third night, when a little fever crept in.  At that point I holed up in a comfy chair with a blankie over me and churned out heat for the lap cat. Dave poured me a beer and I soldiered through it.

Uh-oh. I don't soldier through beer. Probably, I thought, this is a sign that I am dying. And I don't care. It's okay. As long as I don't have to get up out of the chair, I'm fine with whatever comes. It's peaceful, really. This is what is supposed to happen. You begin to separate from the joys and cares of life. Like, right now, as long as the quilt is still up under my chin, and the cat doesn't have an epizootic and patch out, and nobody is expecting anything of me, it's all good.

Dave made me a steak and hash browns with a bright salad on the side, and asked if I'd like a glass of red to go with. No, I don't think I want any wine. I caught his raised eyebrow of concern, and realized: yes, I am dying. I can see that now. It's not so bad. It doesn't hurt. Do not worry about me. I will just sit here and fade away. I will be a pile of dust soon. I don't need to tell anyone what folder the book I'm writing is in, or where the sheet with all my passwords is. They'll either figure it out, or they won't, but either way it doesn't matter. Nothing really matters, as long as I don't have to get up.

With a sense of heightened self-awareness, I focused on a small, dark presence deep within me. It was the Seed of Death. It began to grow. I acknowledged it with a pitiful rattly cough, and it dislodged. It was a snot nugget after all, but it was right next to the Seed of Death.

I ate half the steak and half the potatoes and couldn't manage the salad at all. Yes, I am surely dying. I will cruise in and out of consciousness, and at some point I will no longer cruise back in. She didn't want that second beer, Dave will tell people afterwards, and I knew she didn't have much time left. I just kept her comfortable.
What a nice man. I hope he doesn't miss me too much. I don't want him to be sad. With great effort, I unbundled myself from the blankie and staggered up to bed. At 8:30, four hours earlier than usual. Yes, clearly, death approaches.

Twelve hours later I managed to make it downstairs in my jammies and haystack hair and announced myself with a loogie-rattling honk. I'd stayed in bed just to make sure, but I was not technically dead at all. Someone had tied a clatter of tin cans to my lung bumpers. Jesus Christ, are you ever going to stop coughing? Dave said, with a little edge. He won't miss me too much. That's good, I think.

78 comments:

  1. Sounds awfully like man Flu. That's chronic and eventually terminal.
    Good bye, Murr.
    PS Who gets Pootie?

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    1. Well DAVE gets Pootie, and before y'all start lining up, Pootie comes with his little buddy Hajerle and his pals Scooter and Rat.

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  2. I think he'd prefer your coughing to a coffin

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    1. We're hoping so, but it can get pretty annoying.

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  3. And I feel your pain my friend though I have no Dave. Plus I am having to struggle in and out of the house twice a day trudging through winter's daily blast to feed and water my chickens and cats. I too know this is the end and simply pray my family will not find me frozen in the snow with the animals chewing on the remainder of my carcass. Nobody knows the trouble I've seen, nobody knows but Murr.....

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    1. You already should keep your cats inside. Bring in the chickens too and problem solved. ONE problem solved.

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    2. What about my goats and ducks and turkeys...should they come inside with the chickens, too?

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    3. If the cats eat the chickens, that should take care of a couple of your problems. As for the goats, ducks and turkeys, They have wool coats and down jackets. Stay inside. Get well. Didn't you have kids in order for them to do the chores when you get old

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    4. Kat's the one with the kids, and now she has to bring them inside with the turkeys.

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  4. I knew it was trouble when you wrote about having to soldier through that beer. And then! No wine? I want Pootie!

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  5. I think I'm older than you, and so I agree that we do begin to think about death. Next time that thinking turns on, I hope my mind will bring back this post and I'll start smiling or even giggling. If it is indeed the "big one," people will think it's bliss and that I'm heaven-bound.

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    1. I hope I go out laughing. Might just as well.

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  6. Spouses! They keep ya grounded. Think yer dyin'? Go on & die already and don't be so noisy about it. Sheesh. I hope you are all recovered nicely now.

    I did one of those goofy lists on Facebook of things that people might not know about you. My #1 thing is that my greatest fear is going blind while driving on the freeway. I figure that would be a pretty certain way to go out in a spectacular blaze of glory. Just hope I don't take anyone else with me.

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    1. Great. Now I'll be thinking of going blind on a freeway. Thanks for that one.

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    2. How about the earthquake while you're stuck in traffic on the Fremont bridge?

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    3. Yeah, I do always imagine that one.

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    4. Always drive quickly over bridges. Especially up here in Washington. Just in case.

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    5. You know, this collapsing bridge thing is something I never thought about until other people started reporting how scared they are of using bridges, and now I think of it. As in, "hmm, traffic is slow on this bridge--Andrea would freak out--hmm..."

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  7. In that picture you look pretty almost dead already! Strange though, after reading this post I get the impression you are well on the road to recovery!

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  8. LOL.

    We should all die thusly.

    Pearl

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  9. "She didn't want that second beer..." I am still laughing about that. Funny, funny post!

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    1. It's definitely one of my early warning signs.

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  10. "Practice run" at death, how quaint.

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    1. I actuaLLy included a tiny container of Day Quil Cold & Flu as part of a birthday gift, but only because it fit the price point of around a dollar and it had a piece of orange color on the packaging. I managed to collect 50 things for a birthday present that were orange colored for someone who turned fifty (yesterday). Several things were Tigger themed.

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    2. I think you might have squeaked by with fifty Candy Corns.

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  11. Thanks, Murr. It's funny. But not funny too. I don't think you're silly.

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  12. Joe said what I was thinking. I laughed until tears came, but there was an edge there too. I visit my father daily in his nursing home, and it's hard to ignore dying when there's someone we know doing it so frequently. It's given me what someone once called a morbid approach to life, but what I see as realistic - pondering how I hope to go, when I'm likely to go, what I don't want to leave undone or unsaid. It guides my living, in a good way. But you've added the laughter, which a person can never have too much of - thanks for that. I hope you're feeling better by now.

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    1. Thanks, I'm back in the pink.It wasn't a big deal. I'm just a big crybaby.

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  13. I am pleased, but unsurprised, to see that the cat is warming itself on your fever. And hope and trust that your internal heating has now been turned down.
    Dying doesn't bother me much, but I am concerned about disposal. I want to feed a tree, and there is nowhere within miles where that is legal. Will my near and dear remember, or will they have a hissy fit at the added inconvenience...

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    1. There is a place in TN called (I'm pretty sure) the Body Farm. Ashes add nothing useful to the environment. You can donate your body to the Body Farm and they bury it, dig it up, bury it, etc. to study decomposition. I think it's for CSI purposes. A friend of mine has been there. Sorry for the information, but I couldn't stop myself.

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    2. Good information. I also like the idea of being staked out for the vultures, but like a lot of other good things, it's illegal most places. I don't know why. Someone recently had to dig up his wife from the front yard. I'm sure there's a rationale but I don't know what it is. Property values?

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    3. A couple of enterprising companies here (several hundred kilometres away) are offering Eco-funerals. No coffin, no headstones. Native tree of your choice can be planted over you. Which sounds perfect to me - no vultures here. No body farm either (as far as I know).

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    4. I would be so retroactively depressed if my tree died. Because I kill things around here all the time.

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  14. There might be some significance to the fact that steak and homefries and beer are exactly the same things most requested by those on death row for their last meal.

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    1. Seriously? I've never been able to answer that question. I mean, I guess what they're asking is "what's your favorite meal," but I don't think I could get anything down under the circumstances.

      Maybe ice cream.

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  15. I see you're only MOSTLY dead and not COMPLETELY dead. Well, I'll send Dave a nice card if it turns out to be the latter.

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    1. You're a nice man, Jono. Make it one of those musical cards. Not because Dave would appreciate it especially, but it drives the mailman nuts when the sucker goes off all day long.

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  16. Did you ever think think that you could raise the money for a really all- out funeral for yourself, if you'd just action Dave off? Lots of women would love to be taken care of like that and most of them aren't. Actually, he's probably worth living for.

    Glad to hear death for you is not yet complete.

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    1. What a nice thing to say. He IS worth living for. You know, most of the time.

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  17. I'll bet you've had that other beer by now.. or the wine. Possibly the whine.

    As amusing as you are when ill, I hope you feel better soon.

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    1. I'm 100%. That's a low bar but I've limboed it.

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  18. DRUGS! You need drugs! Mucinex and Nyquill for starters. And Vicks slathered on the chest and neck, then covered with a piece of red flannel. Hot, home-made chicken soup with lots of garlic and thick noodles. Lap cats and funny movies on TV and someone to rub Tiger Balm into your feet, then cover them with cotton sockies.

    You may NOT die yet! You have not trained your replacement, and we can not allow you to leave until you have another warm, wry, witty woman to take your place.

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    1. You do have my address, right? I feel great but that sounds like a lot of fun.

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  19. Move over, Murr...is there room in that deathbed for me and MY cat? 'Cause I'm coming down with some form of lurgey myself. And I'm not getting any sympathy around here.

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    1. Now I'm just sad. I have sympathy. I'm scooching over.

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  20. Ah, you make good sense to go quietly into that goodnight. Your description of the 'good death' that many hope, and some pray, for is perfect. I hope someone, Pootie or Dave, rolls out the barrel and invites everyone in for a good old knees up when you go. I also hope that won't happen for a long, long time.

    Stay rugged up, drink lots of fluids (beer) and keep typing!

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    1. You ain't from around here, is you? That's a lot of phrases I need to jot down.

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  21. "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." I forget who said that, but for some reason it seemed appropriate here. You have my sympathy. I always consider any sort of illness as some kind of personal failing on my part and thus one must scrape me off the front of a truck before I will take to my bed. But then, I don't have Dave to bring me steak and wine. Feel better soon, my friend.

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    1. Oh it takes nothing at all for me to fold up and demand sympathy and service. You're clearly made of stronger stuff. Or you know your horse doesn't have opposable thumbs.

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  22. Geez, your a real party pooper. A glass of wine with a bit of cold medicine might give you a little zing in your step or knock you out altogether. Either way, it's better than what you feel now!

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  23. Thoughts of how it might go probably could use the boost of the red stuff! Sometimes I wish you'd visit my blog too

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    1. I'll be right over! Almost right over! I have to admit I visit more blogs than I comment on. I get shy.

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    2. While we're on the subject, I wouldn't mind if you dropped in on my blog, even just once.

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  24. Glad you're on the mend. But your description of dying quietly doesn't sound all that bad, if a person has to do it at all.

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  25. Well, you know this death and dying business is very serious stuff. You seem to have caught the appropriate note for the occasion. Very well done!

    Blessings and Bear hugs, as your un-dying moves along!

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    1. So far I'm batting a thousand on not dying. What could go wrong?

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  26. I'd prefer you to stick around a mite longer if you don't mind. Say, twenty years or so? Please?
    Whenever you do choose to go, (do we actually get to choose?) I hope you go peacefully in your sleep, with no pain. And of course I wish the same for me and everyone else. Just not too soon.

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    1. I'm aiming for forty, but you won't necessarily hear from me those last ten years.

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  27. My idea of old age is that we are all hoping we are dodging bullets that we don't even know are coming our way. Wrote about it a few months ago. Included the example of a woman who was killed by a port-o-john that flew off the truck in front of her, came through her front window and killed her. Who ever would have even thought to worry about that happening?

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    1. Well, now, ALL of us! Hate it when the shit hits the van.

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  28. In her book STIFF by Mary Roach she says it best:
    "The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens and nothing is expected of you."
    the Ol'Buzzard

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  29. you make me laugh in the way only common experience is funny!

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    1. Everything's funny, if not necessarily right away.

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  30. How sick can you be when you use a word like epizootic?

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  31. Oh, and by the way, the Body Farm is located in Knoxville TN. When I worked in Johnson City, TN, I was only 90 miles northeast, and had the chance to meet the director, William Bass, because I worked at a med school and supervised the forensic tox lab. Yeah. Just like CSI but without the cleavage and dark lighting.

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    1. You can indeed donate your body to the Farm, and I did have that in my will until I moved to Oregon after retirement. Changed the bequest because my family would have to pay the charges to ship my body to TN. Now I'm signed up to go to OHSU after I kick off.

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    2. I like both those ideas. Someone else picks up the tab for the slab.

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