Monday, July 6, 2009

The Color of Living and Dying at Once -- Writer's Poke #248

I carried her into the room and sat her down on the metal examination table. The doctor knocked on the door, entered, and briefly explained how the shot would work. He explained that I could stay or go; I elected to stay, and I watched as he injected death into her body. She was too weak to fight it, and in a matter of seconds, she was dead.

The hardest part was watching her body briefly contort and convulse. As the magic potion did its work, she lost all muscle control. And then she was still. What was once a living, breathing being was now eight pounds of biohazardous waste.

Other than when I've killed the occasional fly or bug, the euthanizing of a cat is the closest I've come to the death experience. But I've always had a morbid curiosity about the process of dying. At one moment in time, a person could be both instantaneously alive and dead. What is that moment like?

Actually, the state of death isn't so clear cut. The body starts preparing for it weeks, if not months, in advance. Sleeping and eating habits change, and the mental process of accepting one's own death begins.

One question remains: what we hear when we die? Will it be Dickinson's annoying fly, or will it be silence eternal?

What color would you assign to crossing over?

"For three days after death hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off." -- Johnny Carson

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