I just read about an established poet who was finding some kind of new success in his exploitation of his impending death. From what, I didn't bother reading. Dude might be crying about it, or he might just be trying to help the rest of us understand the process, I don't care. We all die of something, and I'm not detail oriented.
I snorted a derisive laugh and said, to no one in particular, impending death? shit, that's where we all live. Maybe we should all cash in on that ticket. We're all going there, why not all cash in? Some of us will be gone in a heartbeat; some in an eye blink; some will last what seems like forever. We're all going though, and it all works out to "soon" in the scheme of things.
Am I dying? Sure. That's the only condition available to the living. What, you think it happens all at once? One day you will go to sleep comfortably alive and then, somehow, without warning, you will be dead the next day? As Howard Stern's father used to say: don't be stupid, you moron.
Upon reflection, it does happen. It happens to people who die in unfortunate accidents in the prime of life, or even before. I'll always remember Nancy Rennart, my little sister's friend, who died of misadventure on a bicycle at the age of about seven. I remember my own friends Hilary and Flip, who died shortly after high school of car accident and fire, respectively. For some, the end comes almost immediately. There's a grave right across the isle from my grandparents that is a particular cautionary tale for me. Little Joey Tanaka, Joseph, born the same August as me in 1948 and dead before his first September.
For the rest of us, it goes a little like this: at twenty-five, you're hardly dead at all; at thirty-five, you might start to see it on the horizon; at forty-five, you've begun to notice little hints that the party will end some day; at fifty-five, you're probably starting to panic; at sixty-five, you accept that it will happen, and you understand that it is happening slowly right fucking now; if you're lucky enough to be alive at seventy-five, you probably feel three-fourths dead already. After that, every day is a miracle.
I don't think that it is cool when some among us discover that they are dying and thereupon become so interested in the process that they must devote themselves to writing about it, or, more likely, discover that they have just had a wonderful new meal-ticket handed to them, and if they should only share their suffering with sufficient elan it will ease their last days, financially, or at least find them a wider readership, finally.
Oh, I'm just being a bitch. Such people are just trying to be helpful, in the manner of writers, trying to clarify our common experiences. Aren't they? Sure! Believe it!