Death and Dying

Not explicitly about Kübler-Ross. In the 1990s, I enjoyed listening to the stories of a cantadora—keeper of the stories—, Clarissa Pinkola Estes and her Theatre of the Imagination. Many inspirational stories. That I deem psychology as a pseudoscience does not mean that it serves no purpose. It runs aground where they interpret metaphor for the actual—the symbol for the object. There is a lot to glean from symbols as representations, and one can even apply them to their lives, but never conflate the map for the terrain.

I loved Baba Yaga, but the one I am reminded of today regards candles as measures of life remaining. In this story, a person on a deathbed pleads with Death.

Death explains that the candles represent peoples’ lives and their life force.

Some are tall and burning brightly whilst others are on the verge of being snuffed out

The Dying assumes that all the tall and bright candles must represent young children and that the ones with almost no wax and wick to burn are the elderly.

Death explains:

Some children have very short candles.

And some of the very tall and very bright ones are very old people.

‘Look, here is yours’, Death tells him.

The Dying is directed to one of the dimmest, most pathetic, struggling-for-its-last-few-moments-of-burning-candle in all the land.

He understands.

Trustwise

The lamb spends all its time worrying about the wolf and ends up being eaten by the shepherd.

— Unknown

I think one could look at this from several perspectives or through different lenses.

We worry about the wrong things.

At some level, this is about trust.

We trust the wrong people. Those whom we most entrust do us in. But I feel this is contextual.

One might feel this shepherd is Capitalism or the State or organised religion. Perhaps it’s culture or identity cohorts. Or all or these or none of these.

On another level, it recalls the inevitability of death. This shepherd reaper is always waiting in the wings whether or not one worries.

In the words of RATM, Know Your Enemy.

Covid Casualties

I’ve got several things on my mind, but they are ostensibly unrelated. I’ll post separately as time allows, but this is a personal story.

My sister has been visiting a dialysis centre three times a week for the past 5 years awaiting a matching kidney donor. She rang me the other day to tell me she was en route to hospital as they had found a donor. Found is probably a poor word choice. Some person had died, rendering the kidney superfluous for all intents and purposes.

My sister was excited to regain some control over her life. She was told that the host of this kidney had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C and was informed of the risks. The official cause of death was Covid—perhaps owing to a compromised immune system. No matter. My sister accepted the risk. It was evening, and the transplant was scheduled for the morning after running some test panels.

That morning, she was devastated by the news that she had tested positive for Covid, so she was no longer a candidate for a transplant. This is a reminder that Covid is not just about the effects of having caught it. She’d go back on the list and wait. Perhaps it wouldn’t take 5 years this next time, though there are no guarantees.

This is not my first experience with Covid. My 20-something-year-old daughter was hospitalised for over a week due to Covid. I’ve had friends and acquaintances get it, but they all survive–long-Covid effects notwithstanding.

I thought I’d written about the death of my last girlfriend who was another Covid casualty of the indirect variety. She died in June 2020. Her plight was sealed by deferring treatment of an infection for fear that hospitalisation would increase the probability of her contracting Coronavirus. This decision turned out to be fatal.

To be fair, there is a lot of information, misinformation, and disinformation abound, and it’s a challenge to sift out the relevant material. And neither is the ambient fear helpful. And so it goes…

Memento Mori

Some art just catches my eye and resonates. Here is an image of a robotic arm. Nothing quite captures the Modern human condition quite so poignantly. This is the plight of Sisyphus but not so pedestrian as Camus’ version. One can’t imagine this one happy. This robot was built intentionally to bleed the hydraulic fluid that is its lifeblood, as it toils to retain that sanguineous fluid. But as with life and humans, the task is futile.

In this shot, we see human spectators watching its eventual demise. Memento Mori. No one gets out alive.

The Instagram copy captures my sentiments pretty well, so I’ll end this here.