Ruminations on Death

Short—and true—fables on dying

Ruminations on Death
Three Rock Mountain, Dublin, Ireland (Photo credit: Joe KingCC BY-SA 3.0)


I once befriended a man old enough to be my great-grandfather. We spent a year going swimming, taking walks, and chatting over breakfast. Having not seen him for a few weeks, I called him to make plans to meet again. My phone rang a few days later. “Jim! How are you!” I said. It was his daughter: she was calling her father’s friends to let them know the news.

Part I

A close relative is at death’s door. Reluctant, I visit from out of state. Too infirm to talk, she is aware of my presence. Days later, she is dead.

–Did she want my permission?

Part II

I make plans to meet a notable person whom I have long admired. He is well-known for being open to casual visits from fans. As I make my itinerary, he dies unexpectedly.

–Was entanglement involved?

Part III

For fifteen years, I lose touch with a mentor from childhood. The reunion is fulfilling. I introduce him to some new friends! He dies, mid-performance, one year later.

–At most, I tied up loose ends.

Part IV

For ten years, I intend to write to friends—a married couple. The husband dies; I begin a letter to the wife. One year later, the wife dies. My letter is left unfinished.

–Did they think I did not care for them any longer?


Thought to have months to live, my brother begins to set his affairs in order. We learn more about love in one year than in the previous forty.

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