We want our loved ones to live as long as possible, but our culture has come to view death as a medical failure rather than life’s natural conclusion.
In a pleasant fog of painkillers, just after my appendix took a long walk off a short pier, I lay in my hospital bed content to marvel at the peculiar brand of boredom that walks hospital halls and count the hours by the arrival of my neighbor’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and the new faces in the nursing staff. How lucky was I to have waltzed blithely over that line in the sand back there? These days nearly everyone makes the crossing safely and knows the line I’m talking about; the one that separates you from your past. It is the line that marks the day you would have died of “natural causes” without the advances of modern medicine.
It was dark still, or again, when I felt my body heave a sigh of relief. The troublemaker in the neighborhood had packed his bags and moved on to greener pastures in the medical trash bin. A few hours later I could feel my organs begin syncing in forgotten ways, coordinating, working-together, “Hey, would you look at all those dead germs?”, taking advantage of massive doses of antibiotics to clean house and tackle the necessary improvements list.
I checked out a couple of days later and left behind one used-up appendix, two kilograms fat, and any fear I might have harbored that this body is growing tired of living. I brought with me a deep gratitude for today. It is a day I might have missed.