Death and Dying

Hey all!

Just a quick update.

I just wanted to write a bit today and put something out on the blog for y’all. I’ve recently read the New Yorker article: “Questions for Me About Dying” by Cory Taylor that you can read here. [1] Author of Me and Mr. BookerMy Beautiful Enemy, and Dying: A Memoir, her writing combines a sense of urgency and beauty, culminating in a profound story about death.

Truly, there’s a taboo around death. It is anti-normative to approach the subject of death while someone is still alive, at least in my personal experience with my grandfather. Cory Taylor recognizes this, this taboo, and her willingness to address it openly is refreshing, innovative, and inspiring, to a grandson who never had the chance to tell his grandfather goodbye. She’s not afraid to say that she’s afraid, that she deserves so much more time to live, that there are things she wants to experience, even if she won’t metamorphose into a thrill-seeker in the last stage of her life.

Critically, she engages herself in introspection: “What does it mean to take your own life by suicide?” Euthanasia, another taboo topic, is brought to the table, placed awkwardly like a frozen burrito among a sumptuous feast. Who would approach such an untimely topic, even at such an opportune time like dinner? If Kubler Ross were here to converse with Mrs. Taylor, I’m sure they’d have a lot to share, perhaps not of the different stages of processing emotional death, but perhaps a shared niche of people who have embraced the commonality of death into their lives as an inevitable matter.

She is so brave, Cory, to put herself out on the front lines, to bare her writing to the world. Maybe she would admit that she never was one for risky-physical stunts, but writing is one of the most intellectually provocative activities one can undertake. Scrutiny and criticism are the bread and butter of a book’s reception and that’s no small fear in anybody’s mind.

Unfortunately, she is not with us now, just as my grandpa is not with us now, but perhaps they are both watching from above, with aspirations and convictions of their own, urging us to embrace the visceral emotions of life, to engage each other in honest conversation, and to pursue lofty goals to the benefit of the world.

My name is Joseph Maa and I am afraid to die, afraid to leave this world. But someday, it will come. It maybe a Monday, or a Tuesday, or maybe even a Wednesday, but the days are numbered and we can only wait until that deadline passes. One can only hope that their matters are settled away, their loved ones well-informed of a life well-lived, and that one’s passing be resolved with few tears, but more hopefully, a few laughs and memories of better times.

Your friend,

Joseph Maa

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