Can I blog about death for a minute? I know it’s kind of weird to disappear for a month+ and then bounce back in talking about death, or to some people, it’s weird to talk about death at. all. Yesterday, I was sitting on my tiny porch reading, when my neighbor who shared the porch came out with a Heineken and sat down for a chat. (It occurs to me that I could keep on introducing people and subtly foreshadowing their deaths, but SPOILER ALERT, nobody dies.) He’s a doctor, or something close to a doctor (I’m not clear on the hierarchy of the post-med school life) from Georgia (the country) and he is terribly smitten with Obama and his healthcare plan (I don’t want to talk about it.), which segued into him asking me, “Do you find that Americans are uncomfortable with death?” Thinking about my propensity to toss out, “I’m talking about my grandpa on my dad’s side. My grandpa on my mom’s side is dead,” when Iknow that the majority of people are way more comfortable saying, “He passed on,” I answered, “YES.” To me, people are dead! I’m alive, they’re dead. It’s a state of being, or not being, as the case may be. And I recently read a two-star book (I’m in the habit of rating them) that involved assisted suicide for a terminally ill person. I didn’t really like the book, but I liked that part, because why not? (I know I used a question mark there, but I’m not actually inviting opinions.) I also have a little shrine of sorts to my dead cat. I had her for 14 years, since I was 10 and she was a kitten, and she was the first pet that I had to decide to have put to sleep, and it was one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever had to do. I had her cremated, I snipped some fur off of her before that terrible last trip to the vet, and I saved some things that reminded me of her, and I made a shelf display of those things. Yes, I have feline ashes on a shelf. She lived indoors her whole life, so where would I scatter them? And my dead grandmother’s ashes “lived” in a closet for a few years, so why not Emma’s ashes?

But see, I also read the blog of Eva, who is about to turn 26 (hopefully) and who is living with and dying from cystic fibrosis. She is full of love and gratitude, but she doesn’t want to die. I’ve read blogs or journals of people who know that their ends are near, and they, too, are full of love and gratitude, but they also talk about being at peace and waiting for their deaths because they are “ready.” Eva isn’t ready. She talks about how she nearly died a few times in the past month, and because they had specific instructions, her family ordered her, “Eva, not yet! you’re not finished!” and she came back. I wouldn’t be ready, either. I identify with Eva because we’re both very, very stubborn. I, too, would request to not let me die.

It seems that people are comfortable with death only when it’s sweet and a relief. When people “pass on” to whatever “better place” they go. Or when people are “ready.” Eva has thousands of readers, so she sure isn’t unpopular because of her fighting to stick around. But hers is the first account I’ve read of someone who doesn’t wrap up her life with a nice bow and lie back and wait for her life to be taken, like in the movies. I’m even pro-choice with death, I suppose, because I want people to be able to go on whatever terms they want to.

Then again, I still have some self-improvement work to do: When both my mom AND my best friend told me that they would prefer not to get into any life-prolonging measures in the event of their hypothetical serious illnesses, I let them know that was not OK because I need them.

And while I’m at it, in Eva’s honor, please “love, love, love,” as she says. Make a donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. And take a deep breath and be thankful you can.

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