Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Proper Way To Die (Part 4/7)

5. The Long Goodbye

Someone told me I may have Munchausen Syndrome. Now, I'm familiar with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, which is straight out of The Sixth Sense, but not the syndrome itself. I could guess though. MSBP is basically when an adult caring for a young child intentionally makes that child sick or prolongs the child's illness, just so that he/she (the adult) can care for the child.
Now that's fucked up.
The regular syndrome, however, is basically faking or exaggerating symptoms in order to get treatment or sympathy. It's different from hypochondria as the patient knows he's faking it, whereas a hypochondriac honestly thinks he's unwell.
Now while that is pretty close to what I've been talking about so far, there is a difference. 
I don't intend to fake an illness or impending death. I'm probably on the border though, so do me a favour and keep your eyes open for any warning signs.
Back to the hospital room. This is where it gets fun. Assuming, of course, that I don't die immediately. That's no fun.
Here's where I explain why dying a slow death is better than sudden death. You get time to plan stuff out. How you're going to say goodbye to all your friends and family. What you want your funeral to be like. Your will. Hell, maybe even your last words and epitaph.
Of course, there's a downside to a slow death as well. Extremely painful. The people you love are forced to watch you slowly slip away. You may lose your memory, become immobilised, maybe even become a vegetable. But then all that's going to happen eventually anyway, when I get old. At least, by dying young I'd be spared all that humiliation.
One point in favour of untimely deaths is that it makes an impact. People tend to remember you, miss you more, overhype your work. Look at Lennon. Hell, look at the entire 27 Club! You've got to hand it to the 27 Club though. To think you could become a legend around the same time other people may just be settling into their chosen career! Hell, I was born on the same day as Hendrix (different year, obviously), I'm nine years away from being his age when he died, but I haven't done shit!
Update: I wrote this almost a year ago. I am now eight years away. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

But I digress. The main advantage of a sudden death is that you're spared the indignities of a slow death.
But that isn't for me. Think of all the loose ends I'd be leaving behind. So much unsaid. So many people who would never know how much they've really meant to me.
Much better to die slowly. When I die, I hope at least the people who've made a difference in my lives come to visit me. My family. My teachers. My friends. I'd try to find the words that best encapsulate what they mean to me. I'd thank them for just being there for me. Maybe reminisce. Maybe extract promises.
I'd like to tell someone where all my unfinished writing is. Notebooks, Word documents, scraps of paper... I'd hate for them to be lost forever. I'd love for them to be published someday. But perhaps that would be counter-productive. Look at Kafka. Look at Virgil. Both of them died leaving behind express instructions: their writing was not to be read - it was to be destroyed. Thankfully, their friends disregarded their instructions and so we have the Aenid and Kafka's novels and short stories. I would imagine that story and the knowledge that mankind nearly lost those works only enhanced the value accorded to them. So maybe the smart thing to do would be to ask someone to burn everything I ever wrote and hope they have the decency to disregard a dying man's last wish. But what about the Word documents? Deleting just isn't as grand as a bonfire.
As for a will, I don't really have much to leave behind. Most of my stuff would probably stay with my family. Maybe I'd give some of my books to my friends since I was always averse to lending them whilst alive. My guitar would probably go to my music teacher to give to whoever he thinks needs it most. My mp3 player? Ah, now that's a tough one. I doubt the songs on it would mean as much to anyone else as they do to me. Anyway, nobody really listens when you try to make them listen to your favourite songs. I don't know why though. To me, when a friend offers me his music, it's sacred. It's only when I really like someone that I offer my earphones to them. It's an expression of trust, of camaraderie. 
So far, nearly every friend I have has failed this acid test of friendship. They say no. They say they'll hear it later. They don't. Then I post it on their Walls on facebook. Then they listen.
We really are a narcissistic race. 
Oh, and passwords. It's very important to leave behind a record of all your passwords for your various accounts. Google, facebook, those retro gaming sites, whatever. That way your family can still reply to people who don't know you're dead and maybe keep you alive in cyberspace, although that would be kind of creepy. 
The technological equivalent of keeping a preserved corpse in your freezer.

So there I am, in the hospital, my friends and family around me. I've talked to them, I've said stuff I'd only say over my dead (or dying) body. I've confessed secrets, I've forgiven people, I've asked people to forgive me. 
If there's someone I've secretly had a crush on in the room, I've probably tell her. I've probably laughed about it. Have I deathbed-blackmailed a kiss out of her? Well.... 
If there's a Catholic priest on hand I've probably confessed and had the Last Rites administered to me. Always wanted to see that.
Hell, that would be my real Bucket List. Be sincere, don't keep secrets from friends, make amends, apologize, forgive and forget, say thank you, be fearless, let people know you love them, awkwardness be damned.
I would finally be doing all the things normal people are supposed to do to live honest, simple, happy lives but which real people never seem to get around to doing.
Sad, that.
A man can only truly say he has lived when he's about to die.
And even that isn't a sure thing.
I hope I can say I have no regrets. 

I die.
It's quiet. It's slow. 
I smile. Or not. 
My eyelids close. Or someone shuts them for me. 
If there's wailing, I'm not there to hear it. 
If there are tears, I'm not there to see them.
I'm gone.

To be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment