love : life :: curious : death

I love life. I am not contemplating suicide. Really.

But sometimes I am the smallest bit impatient to face death.

2007, Hayden Lake, ID

My grandfather is dying right now. He may live through the night, but it won't be long until he passes away from life into death.

His name is Argonne, but most people call him by his abbreviated middle name, "Joe." I've been calling him Pampa since before I could pronounce "Grandpa." He was born in 1922 and just celebrated his 90th birthday a couple of weeks ago. The family game in my tribe is a card game called cribbage and Pampa is an amazing cribbage player. I've never seen anyone beat him. And he never let me win, either.

I have really fond memories of him and my dad fishing in Coeur d'Alene Lake, while my sister and I paddled around the dock and scared away all the fish.

The last time I saw him was in June 2007. He was still wearing the thick suspenders and trucker's cap he always wore. He had a scruffy white beard and glassy blue eyes. He laughed just as I remembered him laughing when I was a child.

I think of him there on his hospital bed at home, with a hospice nurse, head laid back and chest exposed to the open air. He's tired. He's very tired. He says as much. He says he's tired and he's ready to go be with Fran---my grandmother. Thirty-seven years ago he lost her to cancer after 28 years of marriage.

I think of him at 90 years old, finally facing death. It's not the first time death has been close, but it will likely be the last. And I envy him a bit. Because I am sometimes the smallest bit impatient to face death


death is THE existential problem. It is the heavy concrete base upon which we must build our philosophies, activities, families, and legacies.

I have this idea that the quality of life is measured by the experience of death. And so how can I know if all of this work, this life, is worth anything until I can secure a successful death? Death lived (so to speak) in hypothesis or conjecture is meaningless. I want to face it, to have a certainty that my life is ending, and only in that moment will I know myself and the quality of my spirit.

I won't rush the experience by drinking bleach or walking on train tracks. I'm intensely curious, but only a little bit impatient-- certainly not eager.

In the time between this moment and the hour of my death, I remember that

since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death---that is, the devil---and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. //  [hebrews2.14-15]