My dad had an abdominal aortic aneurysm repaired this autumn ("a lot of alliteration from anxious anchorman placed in a powerful post" -- does anyone else remember this line of Albert Brooks' from Broadcast News?). ANYWAY, my dad had a successful surgery, without complications, and he is once again playing golf, tennis, riding his bike, etc. We are thankful and happy that he is well and enjoying his life.
I was talking to my parents on the phone last week, and as we talked, they told me that an acquaintance (not a close friend) of theirs had recently passed away from an aneurysm, to which I replied, a bit absent-mindedly, "I'm so sorry, but what a great way to go!"
There was a silence at their end of the line.
I said, "It's quick & painless; you know, BANG - lights out! No suffering." They seemed a little shaken. Then it dawned on me that they might be feeling as if they had just dodged a bullet; that their acquaintance had just died from the condition that my dad had had surgically repaired.
I called them back a few days later and asked, "Were you saying, 'Phew! We dodged a bullet!,' and did I miss your point?" and my mom said, "Yes." I started laughing at how widely I had missed their meaning, and about where my mind had gone, instead: What's a good way to die, if you are lucky enough to reach your 80s?
I know that we are all going to die, so nowadays, I think more in terms of good ways to go than obsessing about a fact that I cannot change. Being present when our daughter died took the fear of the transition away, and it seems that what is left in me is prayer that I will fulfill my work here with great love, and prayers for a swift, painless departure when my time comes. May we all be so blessed!