Death, in the beginning, dedicated to the contemplation of things, but after the excesses of creation he had to devote himself to cleaning. With the arrival of humans soon could foresee he would have overtime, something he clearly realized the day that put on the idiot box as it was passing a MTV show —Jackass or something— in which some morons were doing a lot of crap for which Death usually had to go work.
It wasn’t always so. With newcomer humans, Death even thought to take a few spare days —those little bastards were killing without help every living creature and used to die in their bed, not doing the jerk. Barring wars, accidents and contingencies, after having a child —preferably own—, writing a book, and planting a tree —marijuana plants didn’t count—; they used to say see you there in the bedroom of their own home and, as the paper obituaries used to read, after a long and painful illness; with dignity, surrounded by the whole family —who’s taking care of the shop? Don’t go dad and that stuff, a little bell chimed, entered the priest praying Latins, and one of two: the agonizing said with Christian serenity come in you father, or sent him to hell, with the wife and daughters telling you see, how you are, you’re going to condemn yourself!
To die before was to die properly, in one’s bed, as God ordered it, as the main character of the last act, free to accept or reject the holy oils, bless the progeny or, arrived the supreme moment, sit up a little on the pillow and tell the dependants with the last breath that so satisfying and so mannish: all you go fuck yourselves; besides, very instructive for children, not like now that they get them out of the way at once, not to be traumatized there with the show of no longer dying, but passing away, and so go the kids to play Jackass, believing that they will never die and that disease and pain are the sole thing of Bosnians and little blacks in Rwanda. Almost all the ancestors in my home quit smoking and I helped shrouding them personally, and it wasn’t any trauma, but quite the opposite, everything was something as a solemn lesson of life and learning.
But death is not what it used to be.
Now you go on and one day you feel a little peaky, the son-in-law takes you to the hospital in the Civic, and once there no longer get out, like you just fall into a trap, they put you pajamas, fill you up with tubes, a middle-aged but good looking nurse says you tranquil, Pepa, this is nothing, and you spend your agony staring at the white ceiling with the tearful family going to see you four to five, and distant relatives of your bed neighbor, who croaked yesterday afternoon, making a mistake and waking you up in the middle of the nap to say what a good face you have, uncle Dick, unaware that uncle Dick is six feet under from twelve. If tough enough you’ll have several bed neighbors: from the one that will not let you sleep at night with his coughing up the other with whom you make good friends, and his wife, a saint, giving you talk time and offering to bring the flat or the lizard to get you well at night. That’s the grandeur of hospitals, while you die, you meet people.
And then —that’s another— the funeral parlor. Before, Frank E. Campbell was coming home and put you in a pine box, clean shaven, with your Sunday suit and you’d only miss he pocketed a cigar and a ticket for the Yankees, while neighbors and friends congregated in the hall and staircase. And in the street they carry you on shoulders, however badly you had behaved, to solemnly lead you to your final resting place, with your daughters saying don’t take our dad away, and wearing a wreath with the inscription your poker pals won’t forget you.
Now, however, they get you behind a screen while shrouded in a blanket and then take you out of the hospital quietly, secretly, as if croaking were something shameful, and drive you in a hurry to the morgue where they have eight or twelve funerals at once, and your people come and is this the burial number ten? No, this is number eight, ten is the gate fifteen, where that lady cries. And that is neither funeral nor anything, everyone watching the clock because you have to clear for the next guest, music CD’s that one day would go wrong and you just get Dolly Parton, while the priest with sandals and T-shirt dispatches the Requiescat with two swift blows. And for dessert, the niche has your name with stick-on vinyl letters, which will fall on the third day, and, atop, the son-in-law suggests putting your photo. And there you are, oval, blinking indefinitely at the personnel, asinine faced, each November, when they come to change the plastic flowers.
Dying today greatly complicates our life.
We no longer die well – Dugutigui