Thursday, March 31, 2005

Rest in Peace

We all die. Inevitably. The Holy Grail of the rich and powerful, the desire of every despot in history, is to live forever and forever, never to die. The first despots in history, the Pharohs of Egypt tried to evade eternal death by building huge machines as best they could to transport their bodies through time so they could live forever, surrounded by loot that belonged, forever, only to them.

Of course, the tombs were raided so they tried to bury themselves in hidden graves with the loot that was supposed to remain with them forever and these were looted, too. Now we gawk at this loot, amazed at the audacity of the rulers who decreed this stuff was to be hidden forever, to be theirs forever, now is ours...forever!

Well, for now.

This desire to evade death wracked the rulers of totalitarian governments which is why Stalin and Lennin and Mao were put in tombs surrounded by technological fancies designed to keep their corpses going forever and forever. Whole businesses are based on this. There is a group in California that will cheerfully chop off your head and freeze it forever and forever, that will fix things! Like, this company would have done a roaring business in Paris 200 years ago. Geeze, in Iraq, they should open outlets and give discounts.

Everyone wants to live forever.

This is why I refuse to have a grave. Why? The sole reason to have a grave is to somebody in the far future, or if you are unlucky and the Skull and Bones wants to steal your skull, tomorrow, digs up your grave to play with your corpse. This always ends up happening. The bodies buried during the Spanish Fever deaths a mere 100 years ago are being dug up so scientists can poke around the remains! See? If you evade Mother Nature and your bones are preserved, all this means is, someone gets to monkey with them later on! I can't wait.

Terri died today. Her well preserved body finally is going to the final rest except, unless it is burned, it won't be so final a rest. There is no such thing, really, unless you are swept to sea like during the Boxing Day Tsunami. Terri's grave will be a focal point for much hysteria and I seriously doubt it will be a quiet place but will be plagued by all sorts of happenings including probably drunk teens knocking it over for fun. I suspect gravestones were erected just for this purpose.

Outside of Terri's sad family, hardly anyone really cares about her fate. She has done us all a great favor in forcing the GOP to acknowledge the need for public funding of people suffering the worst case medical conditions. Except the GOP hasn't acknowledged anything. They want to pretend she is exclusive and important and singular.

The Pope is afraid to die and wants to live forever. Falwell is terrified of death. He preached faith healing all his fake life and here he is, hardly too much older than me, dying because he lived carelessly and now he wants modern medicine to keep him alive for as long as possible, forever if he could.

Years ago I wrote a story about a village where people lived forever. It became a very miserable place, everyone was bored to tears with each other and with life itself. They wanted to die but were not allowed to die. The miracle came when one of them discovered the cure: to leave and go out into the world and die for others. Sacrificial death.

And this is what life is about: the need to sacrifice for life. I nearly died having a baby. My words before the third surgery when everyone was crying, "How is the baby? Is he doing well? Take care of him. Better me than he!"

I meant it. Every word. If I had a choice, I would have chosen to die if it were to save my baby. I am sure the poor mother of Terri feels this way but then, there comes a time when mercy means, letting the child go. I have had to put down pets, and it hurts but their pain and terror were so great, I couldn't force them to live longer. I have sat death watch. When people go, they always embrace death. The wisdom of dying comes and they literally sigh, let go and even, often, smile, even if they were in pain before, they smile.

For there is goodness in death just like there is goodness in life. Yin and Yang, both matter, the balance has to keep.

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