I just heard that Mum's neighbour, Margaret, has finally died this morning at 8:30am. She was 85 years old. Her husband John died (also from a heart attack) back in 2007 - several months before my own Father.
Both Margaret and John died from a heart attack. I only say this because a curious thing happens when someone dies. We are instantly reminded about our own mortality. My knee-jerk reaction, even before consoling the family is, "How did she die?" or, if feeling a little more empathetic, "I hope she died peacefully." The short of it is that we really want to know what happened. How did the person die? It's almost instinctual and while most people don't ask the direct question, I personally feel the need to know. Why so? I'm not sure. I also want to know how a person "lost their leg" or "caught a disease". It's a stupid, selfish thought, but we all ask it. Internally if not overtly like myself. Not asking would be inauthentic for me, so I ask. Heart-attack was the answer.
Dying Suddenly or Dying over time
Dying isn't great. But there are really only 2 ways to die. Suddenly, or over a time. Heart-attacks, to the living at least, feel very sudden. The living are left with half-answered questions and unfinished arguments. I shouldn't have said [this] or [that]. I should have told her I loved her. We should have hugged more. I didn't give her this [gift].
When someone dies over time, the living adjust and then accept the idea of death. My father died over a period of 9 months (oesophagel cancer, if you need to know why as I do). We got to say "I love you' and "Goodbye" and, as he was going "It's okay for you to go."
I held Dad's hand as he went from 36.7 degrees to room . . . cold.
But in some ways, I wish he'd gone suddenly. For his sake mostly. When someone is dying over time, it's often in pain. There's a lot of indigantion. I remember Dad saying, "I used to wipe your bottom when you were a child and now here you are wiping mine." It kind of wasn't good to hear that. The whole process was slow and awful. One day it looked as though he'd stay alive and live longer (although with a lot of pain), the next day his $85 (invoiced) 1 minute consultation consisted of one sentence bad news, "I'm sorry but the cancer has spread to your lungs." It just wasn't good. For anyone.
Going quickly is best for all in my opinion. The dying get to die and the living get to mourn realistically - instead of protractedly while your loved one's body dies protractedly, suffering abeited by hallucinogenic drugs, altered realities and yoyo-prognoses.
I'm writing a story that is loosely based on Margaret. Margaret was a lovely, church-going lady who struck me as a woman with a firm grasp on (some parts of) reality. They were an educated and very pious couple who both took turns playing the organ for their local church.
Rest in Peace Margaret. I hope both you and John get to play the organ or whatever the after-life world equivalent of it is in the Heaven that you now reside in. God rest your soul.