The bloke next door is dying, in hospital, of cancer. Apparently he’s doing so rather grouchily. This seems understandable; who would want to go, after all, especially when it seems inconceivable that you could have done everything you wanted to do with the time that you had? Won’t there be bound to be some resentment? Or maybe it’s just the pain…
I wonder how I will go, when I go? Will I go on right to the end, as my father and my mother did, and then drop? Or will there have to be time to face the prospect that it will end with increasing pain and sliding dignity?
The neighbour is only around 70, give or take. That’s a reminder that there is always the prospect that there may be less time than you might think. Everybody – or most people? – would like to think that they have a better than average chance of being better than average at living longer – but half the people won’t. My dad had always seemed larger than life, and that impression loomed larger than his increasingly decrepit appearance as he grew, well, older, but not that old – hence the shock that he didn’t live longer than 75. Then my mother, all set up to head for her 90s, we thought, a prejudice that survived the really quite sudden onset of feebleness in her early 80s – till she died overnight at 82, exactly average for a British woman in 2008. In spite of their specialness, not so special in that respect after all. Death does no favours.
I wonder if I will bargain?