Thursday, April 12, 2007

what i don't know

...could fill these pages.

Tribute to Kurt Vonnegut. This is my favorite Vonnegut quote:
"There are two kinds of people in the world:
the ones you know and the ones you don't know."

exerpt from Cat's Cradle.

It has been a humbling week--one preceded by statements of such hubris, such unmitigated certainty as this:
"Pansy is dying."

And she is. As I am. As we are. As we do. Just not today.

Pansy IS dying, in the way that any 96 year old woman with end stage Alzheimer's Disease, is dying. She is dying more predictably, say, than I am (if you don't look too close at my metabolic profile or driving habits.) But I meant it. I said, as succinctly as Bill Murray in Ghostbusters said it, "This chick is toast." I meant right now. Pansy is going to die now. A week at the most. And I know this because I have such vast experience with death. I know so much. I am a professional. I know this shit inside and out.

And I was wrong.

We pros have those kind of lotteries. We guess. We suppose. We think we know. We think we know how long it takes in the absence of water. We think we know how people will do. But we don't. We don't know shit for sure. But sometimes, sometimes, we use our outloud voice when we oughtn't to. And people are listening.

The funny thing is that I feel like I failed because she lived. Lives. Lives on in spite of the tragic things that happen to people who don't know they are sitting up and can't even put their hands out to block a fall. I feel like I stole a moment from her family, who are so ready to release her to the great yawning gasp that we call the other side, that I beckoned for the reaper on her behalf and did so without her permission.

I know I am making way too much of this, but its my blog. Nobody blamed me. I'm the only one on my back. I only hope I can recall, in that moment when some other family is looking to me for certainty, that I don't have any. That I have experience, but no answers. That death is private and unknowable.

So Pansy lives on, to die another day.

4 comments:

asia said...

You certainly do you best. I would trust you to manage my own death, and wouldnt hold it against you if you were wrong. I might not die after all. I havent decided yet.

someone said...

no hurry. no worry.

L. said...

you don't make too much of it. it is life and death. patsy is also dying any minute, but may make it to see her first grandGIRLchild born in 35 years; her goal; I have not called for half a week. some of us lack your courage in such things.

asha said...

Well, don't take it too hard. Angels, especially Angels of Death, are quirky folk beholden to none. You are invited to my death as well, whatever role you want to play. The 7 o'clock magpie did not come tonight although I put tasty peanuts out. You see. All life is quirky and unpredictable. Keeps it interesting.