Thomas Wictor

Dying isn’t catching

Dying isn’t catching

It appears that Mom is very near the end.

One thing I’d like to say is that our culture has forgotten how to die. People—even health-care workers—act very abnormally around dying people.

Just stop it.

Mom was still Mom. She hadn’t changed. Why would I act differently around her? Last night she told me to leave because I had an interview this morning at six, so I kissed her on the head and told her to be strong. I’d showed her the proof copy of Chasing the Last Whale, and she gave me a thumbs-up.

She lost consciousness in the night. Before I left we had a long talk about why she didn’t want to die. She wasn’t afraid, she said, but she didn’t want to leave her family and friends.

Although she’d lost fifty pounds and almost all of her hair, she was still Mom. I resent people freaking out and avoiding her or not knowing what to say. How hard is it to take your cues from the other person? In their last moments here, is it really too much to ask for you to stop thinking about yourself just this once?

We’re a troubled family. Later I’ll write in detail about Mom’s death. It was very tragic, and it took a massive toll on her survivors. Now isn’t the time to get into it, but at some point I’ll express my resentment at the way it happened and the influences that made Mom’s demise inevitable. It was the suffering that angers me. Needless suffering, in my opinion. I’ll have a lot to say in the future. I am unfettered now. There are many who will be held accountable.

But Mom’s near to God, which is all that matters. Soon she’ll be at peace. I hope her mother and father will greet her.

If someone close to you begins to die, just be there for them if they want, and leave when they ask you to leave. It’s not about you.

And don’t put on some bizarre show. My mother gave her first piano recital at the age of four. She wasn’t an idiot. Part of why she died is because people didn’t know how to simply treat her with sensitivity and dignity. What we get in our culture now is the Tented Eyebrows of Compassion, the Squealing Piggie-Babytalker, the Silent Weirdo, the Caretaking Robot, or the Howling Mourner.

How about just being yourself? Is it necessary to don some sort of costume and put on a performance?

Do you even have a self anymore?


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