Archive for April 28th, 2007

My mother-in-law died last night, three days after her sister. Unlike with her sister, at least I remember the last time I saw her. However, since we had planned on visiting today, I am keenly aware that this is yet another death of someone close to me that I didn’t witness.

In fact, so far, every person I’ve known who was dying has finally died when I wasn’t there. In 1992, Trish and I spent several days of our holidays at the hospital beside Fritz Leiber’s bed, along wiht a strange collection of people who included Margo Skinner, a movie critic and poet whom Fritz had recently married; his son Justin, a philosophy professor; a descendant of Rebecca Nurss, one of the Salem witches; a former dominatrix, and a punk-rocker poet. However, it was only after we returned home so I could take up a sessional appointment as an English instructor that Fritz died.

Similarly, when my father-in-law died, I was on the bus from downtown Vancouver to Peace Arch Hospital, cursing the slowness of traffic, while his respirator was removed and he said goodbye to everyone else in the family. At other times, as with my father, people have died the day before we were going to visit them again.

Mind you, I’m not particuarly eager to be present when someone dies. Fantasy writer Diana Paxson says that, when she was at the death-bed of a Greyhaven resident, she could feel his spirit let go when she told him it was all right to do so, and that sounds like a moving, if grim experience, but I don’t know that such an experience is something that I could sanely seek out for myself. At the same time, I feel curious, and often feel that I should be there sometime – and that, until I do, I won’t have reached the next stage of adulthood by coming to some sort of acceptance of death.

Sooner or later, my luck will change, and I will have to stare squarely at death. But I can’t help wondering if my current run of luck is good or bad.

Read Full Post »