Death On A Schedule

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 10 2012 @ 10:52am

In the first of a three-part series, Terry Teachout meditates on his mother's death:

What is true for the dying turns out to be no less true for those who love them. Set aside the language of hope and you soon start speaking in another tongue, one that is frank enough to horrify innocent outsiders who don't know what it's like to watch a parent die. I loved my mother no less after I accepted the awful fact of her coming death, but I also caught myself saying things out loud that not so long before I wouldn't have allowed myself even to think. First came It's time, then She'd be better off dead, and eventually If she dies tomorrow, I won't have to reschedule our flight to California. It was crass and callous and I hated myself for it, above all because I knew that it was nothing more than the plain truth.

Try as you will, you can't ignore the daily necessities. As W.H. Auden wrote of human suffering in Musée des Beaux Arts, "It takes place/While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along."

The full series is here. Michael Wolff's related meditation on watching his mother's end-of-life struggle here.