Posts Tagged: death
31

$3 Million for 7 Weeks

Three weeks after my partner Randy died of metastatic cancer, I called the oncology resident who had been his on-call doctor. I remember exactly how long it took me to make that call because I was in a place of noticing how long things took, with mild interest, like: when will I feel hungry? When will the best part of every day stop being when I’m asleep?

It took me three weeks to work up to hearing Randy’s doctor’s voice on the phone and simultaneously make words in English.There was something I wanted to ask her or, more accurately, something I wanted to make her say.

“If you’d known how [...]

2

Zadie Smith: "If I truly believed that being a corpse was my only guaranteed future, I'd get rid of my iPhone"

Zadie Smith's done it again: her latest New York Review of Books essay, "Man vs. Corpse," is a gentle, vivid meditation on the impossibility of imagining yourself dead.

Walking corpses—zombies—follow us everywhere, through novels, television, cinema. Back in the real world, ordinary citizens turn survivalist, ready to scale a mountain of corpses if it means enduring. Either way, death is what happens to everyone else. By contrast, the future in which I am dead is not a future at all. It has no reality. If it did—if I truly believed that being a corpse was not only a possible future but my only guaranteed future—I’d do all kinds of [...]

6

A History of the Last Meal, and the "Intimate Relationship Between Food and Death"

Via Longreads, a piece by Brent Cunningham at Lapham's Quarterly that had me at hello:

In January 1985, Pizza Hut aired a commercial in South Carolina that featured a condemned prisoner ordering delivery for his last meal.

The essay covers many angles of this alternately compassionate, perverse and titillating idea—the paradox of "marking the end of a life with the stuff that sustains it," the plain fact that "eating and dying are universal and densely symbolic human processes." There's of course a lot of great history: in Rome, gladiators were feasted well on the night before the arena, and the Aztecs, as part of a [...]

38

Queens in History: Tomyris

Today the oldish-and-witchy Tumblr The English Ladye highlights Queen Tomyris, pictured, who reigned in Central Asia around 530 B.C. and apparently "defeated and killed the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great during his invasion and attempted conquest of her country." She also apparently "had his corpse beheaded and then crucified," and then "shoved his head into a wineskin filled with human blood." Furthermore, "She was reportedly quoted as saying, 'I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall.' " (!)

There's also a type of moth named after her (moth No. 25), although it's not yet clear to me why. Unless these [...]

0

Ask Baba Yaga: I Got What I Wanted, So Why Do I Feel Completely Hollow?

Transcript after the jump.

14

Take a Nice Selfie at My Funeral

The face alone has launched a thousand think pieces. So now the question is not one of basic selfie-justification, but rather, why must a photo of my face be justified when a photo of my bookshelf is not?” -Sarah Nicole Prickett

1.

I went to a Catholic parochial school. This means the things you expect it to mean. There was a crucifix in every room: a wall-length stone-cut crucifix in the entryway; in the gymnasium, high up, a crucifix that was enormous, but not quite to scale.

At my school, grades 7 through 12 dedicate a class to a [...]

15

"World Is Suddener Than We Fancy": Seamus Heaney Dies at 74

At 74, after a short illness, the Irish poet and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney is dead. He is survived by his wife and three children, and by his plainspoken, incandescent body of work. "I like a touch of rough and readiness in the language," he once told the Paris Review. "Something in words that makes you realize all over again what Louis MacNeice means when he says 'world is suddener than we fancy.'"

In the long poem "From Station Island," his famous lines:

Your obligation is not discharged by any common rite. What you must do must be done on your own

So get back [...]

18

Who We Tell When We Watch Our Parents Die

I’ve spoken to very few people about what it was like to be in a room watching my mother take her last gulps of air. It was dinnertime, dark. We’d just had pizza. We’d been taking turns sitting by her side when there was a change in her breathing. All the oxygen drained from the room. When my mother died, it was just my family in a semicircle, alone together with what moments ago had been “her,” but in the span of seconds had become “her body.” She was 63.

When I read that comedian Laurie Kilmartin was live-tweeting her father’s dying days, I recoiled as though from an uppercut [...]

8

Zadie Smith on Love, Death: "I was in mourning and it was winter, and the city was all stone and diagonal rain to me"

At the New York Review of Books, Zadie Smith has a beautiful essay up about two trips to Italy, the first taken with her father:

It is not easy for a white man of almost seventy and a black girl of seventeen to go on a mini-break to Europe together; the smirks of strangers follow you everywhere. We did not like to linger in restaurants or in the breakfast room of our tiny hotel. Instead, on that first, exploratory trip, we found our pleasure in walking. Through the streets, through museums—but more than anywhere else, through gardens. No money has to be spent in a [...]

43

Is Great-Grandma R. Kelly?!

“Rest in peace, Gram. So happy you’re finally home. We love you!” read my Aunt Patty’s Facebook post. I was sitting in LaGuardia airport with my cousin, Shauna. I read it aloud to her.

We were confused. We had buried “Gram,” my great-grandmother, in 1987. I remember all the funerals I went to as a kid because Gram was on the Irish side of my family, and at Irish funerals I made approximately zero dollars simply for showing up. This was in direct contrast to funerals I attended for the Italian side of my family. At those, every relative I said hello to told me what a beautiful young woman [...]