Monday, December 8, 2008

On the Business of Death

I didn't feel right about posting anything right on the heels of the news of the death of my friend Luciano. I felt my blog should be in mourning, with the flag at half staff. It definitely hit home, this news. We were a close knit group, several of us in Aspen, Luciano in Buenos Aires, now all scattered to far corners, but still in contact. To have one of that group gone now is strange.

But, (and there always is a but), he didn't suffer. His death didn't drag on for weeks or months or years. His mom didn't have to agonize. He wasn't kept alive on life support, brain dead, his body wasting away at great profit to the stockholders.

My views on death are very unconventional, perhaps even downright bizarre. You see, I view death as a beautiful thing. It's part of life. It's a law of nature. It's a fundamental truth of the universe. Sure, it's scary to be in the process of actually dying and fear that process, the possibility of crippling pain, the unknown of what lies beyond. Sure, it's sad when young people die before their time. Sure, it's difficult for the living who are left behind. Sure it's sad to die when you're in the middle of a beautiful life.

I see death as the beginning of a new adventure, a transition to the next plane of existence for the energetic being I call "me". As in "me, myself and I". Me is the true me - who I am at my core. Myself is my self, this physical shell that I occupy on this bluegreen planet. I is my ego, which is the fucker who springs forth from the battle between the energetic and the physical. Which, or who? Which. I won't give I/ego the validation of "who-dom". Fuckin' fucker. Me don't like that asshole I, but you gotta love him.

That's my view today anyway. I'm ready for it. I've lived a full and pretty happy life. I, with the help of a beautiful woman, created another human being in the form of my daughter. Or was it me who was planting the seed that day long ago? I'm twenty years or so beyond a natural life expectancy - of thirty years - at least in the "natural" days before drugs and medicine and diet and economics (industrial age versus a hunter/gatherer economy) extended natural life expectancies - doubled them basically.

My uncle (in law) dropped dead in his late 40's of a massive coronary, on the dance floor, dancing with his daughter at her Sweet 16 birthday party. He was dead before he hit the floor. Traumatic for her to say the least.

My dad died from lung cancer many years ago. He was 54. Young. Too young to have known the joy of being a grandfather. Adenocarcinoma with metastasis got him. In layman's terms, that means "bad shit that spreads all over your body". He fought it, valiantly, for almost four years. In the end, he was tripping on a morphine drip, and only barely lucid for a few moments on his best days. It was not fun to watch him die this way. A four year, $700,000 death.

$700,000 to extend a dying man's life by four years. Four years fraught with pain and agony and concern and worry, not only for my dad, but for all of us who loved him. We put our pets to sleep - to end their suffering - for $70. We don't want our pets to suffer, but we will drag out the death of someone we love for months and years.

I remember the day my dad died like it was yesterday. Leaving the hospital after he was gone, I walked along the sidewalk to the parking lot. A blue norther was in full tilt - low, dark blue clouds scudding lickety-split across the sky. Cold winds whipping about. Sharp, icy needles of rain drops stinging my face and washing away the salty tears as I sobbed my way to the car. I cursed him for dying.

But I digress.

The business of death is that it is big business. Death is good for business. Half a million people succumbing each year to the ancillary effects of tobacco is good business. Especially after having been faithful customers of your deadly product for forty or fifty years. Your beautifully deadly product with agricultural subsidies from the government. Smart business. Alcohol. Drunk Driving. Drugs. Rx Drugs. White processed sugar. High fructose corn syrup. Products that addict are the perfect products. Products that extend their nasty tentacles into society, into the macro economy. Perfect beautiful nasty tasty products. Ma Nuit said it once - "terrible beauty and sublime ugliness". So much death and dying as we just stand by and watch. Because it's good for business. Death is good for the economy. I know this is a controversial viewpoint, but I will carry it with me until the day I die.

I just want to know my grandkids before I shapeshift into my next life. I didn't know my grandparents - they died before I was born. On my mom's side, they died in a house fire (caused by a cousin who smoked, by the way) and a plane crash (sabotage during WWII). You should know your grandkids before you die. Luciano didn't have that chance. That's sad, for sure.

To close, here's how I want to go. My first choice is to drop dead dancing tango. Not any tango, but Di Sarli's Verdemar, with its dark and deathly lyrics. Dancing to Verdemar in the perfection of a perfect connection. Dancing with a beautiful woman in my embrace. Dancing with the beautiful woman I love. Dancing with the woman who loves me back. To die dancing tango, in love, is all that I can ask for in this life.

Or alternately, to die screwing. No, let's call it making love. With the woman I love who loves me back. At the apex of the orgasm. A big one. A good one. A big, good one. Mind blowing. Make it a simultaneous orgasm. Right then, at that moment in time. Boom and dead and gone. Or perhaps during the inevitable nap that follows. In my sleep. Yeah, in my sleep, during the inevitable post-coitus nap, after the incredible, good, big, mindblowing, holyshitwhatthefuckwasthat?, simultaneous orgasm. I like the irony of experiencing the climax of life, this climax of life we call death, in the midst of a climax. Irony, or whatever.

What the fuck was that? Oh, I just died. That's how I want to go.

Goodbye my friend.

P.S. Either way, I want to be cremated and someone to sprinkle my ashes on the dance floors of milongas in Buenos Aires. A little bit here, a little bit there, with a pinch or two into the wind at the top of Enchanted Rock. Into the north wind, as a blue norther rolls in.


Anonymous said...

This may just be the most beautiful post you have ever written. The imagery is so strong and stirring. I share so many of your beliefs and experiences, and know, from experience, that time with smooth the ragged edges and the lessons will emerge.

Sending you much love and healing energy.

Alex said...

Thanks Johanna, for your kind words.