Monday, November 20, 2006

Death: Lessons Tougher Than Life

You may remember "Tex," the Giant Schnauzer from last week's blog. She made it to Phoenix, Arizona, after her owner came down with an unfortunate bout of cancer, one she will not survive.

Tex, whose name we changed to "Tess," if only because she is a she, had a lot to tell me about life. Which left her former owner whom I visited this week. I hoped she might teach me a thing or two about death that I might share with you.

It was a good idea, but no cigar. Like most dying people I have visited, there was no talk of death. It was like it is not happening. It was like it will never happen.

"How are you?"

"I've been better."

That's as close as it came.

Maybe that's why I spend most of my free time with animals. Dogs are honest.

But there are exceptions. There are a few of us humans who can deal with that most uncomfortable subject -- our impending "dirt naps."

Art Buchwald, the Pulitzer prize-winning columnist is (or at least was) dying of kidney failure. He had his leg amputated to extend his life and was admitted into hospice where he didn't cooperate -- he refused to die. Instead he wrote book about dying where we can find a few lessons about credibly connecting with that we will all face, and soon.

Here are some of his observations worth considering . . .

“It’s amazing how many people visit you if you’re in a convenient location and they’ve been told you’re going to die.”

“People love talking to somebody who isn’t afraid to discuss death, as a matter of fact some of them have such a good time they come back again.”

“Dying is easy, parking is impossible.”

“I have no idea where I’m going, but here is the real question: what am I doing here in the first-place.”

Art was funny in life and he is funny as he approaches death. And he is funny because he is comfortable talking about that which is uncomfortable. We should all be so connected to the past, present, and future, even if it is a future we know nothing about.


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