Thursday, September 15, 2011

Momento mori

Our microwave died yesterday. RIP.

It served us well. Between us, Bern and I realized it was somewhere around 23 years old. We brought it with us from Everitt Street in New Haven when we moved to Cheshire in 1989.

One minute it was with us--warming up the dog's dinner (Yes, Virginia, we warm the dog's dinner since Bern cooks it and it is refrigerator cool)--and the next minute (or about 20 seconds), it was gone.

I've sat by more death beds than I care to recall and it is often like that: one moment, the beloved is breathing, living, their microwave of a heart still beating. And the next moment, nothing....

People often ask, "Is he gone?" or "Is she dead now?"

I never answer but ring the 'call' button and wait for the medical folks to come, though I know it is still and done for the person in the bed.

Being a priest keeps you always close to that Good Door that leads from 'here' to whatever comes next.

I don't like most of the cliches we deal out at death. "He's in a better place," implies that being with the ones who love him is a 'worse' place. "She's at rest," simply begs the question of 'what happens next' to which I have no answer. Most of the stuff people say when someone dies is rather trite an cowardly. What matters is the pain of those by the bed, not the final disposition of the person who has DIED (I almost wrote 'passed', but that's another one of those cliches I dislike. Dead is Dead, not 'passed'.

So, our faithful microwave is dead now, out on our deck while we figure out what is the proper way to dispose of it. (Is there something in a microwave that shouldn't go in a landfill? Anyone out there know? Email me....)

Would that each of us should enter that wondrous and frightening door to 'whatever comes next' with the dignity and the integrity of our microwave oven. It never let us down or disappointed us or betrayed us in any way. A good life, I'd say, now over.

(I'm a great disappointment to people who want to know 'what happens' after we die. I simply don't know. I imagine that 'something' happens, so long as 'nothing' is part of the definition of 'something'. But to the people by the bed, I am the best person to have around. I don't lie or make up stuff. I don't try to 'soften the blow'. Death is dramatically important and should not be soft peddled. I usually say nothing besides, "I'm so sorry," and I hold them near for as long as they want or need to be held near. Just that.)

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.