Privilege Comes in Many Forms

Jenna slumped down onto the ice and put her head in her hands. “I can’t believe we did that,” she said. She looked at Septimus, a horrified expression in her eyes. “Sep, we’ve just killed someone.”

“Yes,” said Septimus simply.

“But that’s awful,” said Jenna. “I…I never thought I would…”

Septimus looked at Jenna, his green eyes serious. “It’s a luxury, Jen,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

Septimus stared at the scraped and bloody snow at his feet. It took him some moments to reply. “I mean…” he began slowly. “I mean that if you go through life and never face a situation where, in order for you to survive, someone else has to die, then you’re lucky. That’s what I mean.”

“That’s terrible, Sep.”

Septimus shrugged. “Sometimes that is how it is. I learned that in the Young Army. It’s either the chief cadet in the wolverine pit, or you.”

Septimus Heap, Book Four: Quest by Angie Sage

Medical Exorcism

Without warning , the patient leans forward slightly in her bed . With her eyes still closed , she spews green and black bile out of her mouth, splattering her hospital gown and hair. She falls back against her bed . Her sister grabs tissues off a table in the room and begins wiping around the patient’s mouth. My mouth opens and won’t close . My heart is galloping. I feel like I just witnessed an exorcism.

“Should I call someone?” Like a priest. I have no idea what just happened, but it looked bad .

“No, no.” Dr . Brown calmly waves me off . “It’s a reflex . She has done that frequently now for the last month and a half .”

I can’t believe it . She’s been like this for a month and a half ?

“It’s horrible to see, I know,” the sister says , now tearful. She caresses the woman’s forehead with her hand. “But I just can’t pull the plug. Not now. I don’t think she’d want that. That’s not what she wanted, and I couldn’t live with myself if I did that.”

There are so many machines that can keep people alive indefinitely. The thought terrifies me . Everyone’s narcissistic , that’s the problem. That’s why death isn’t as naturally accepted as being born. I want to bolt out of the hospital and drink, but I know I can’t. I want to be a doctor, but I question whether I can stand all the physical ugliness of it .

-Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Busy Dying

Plastic barriers , latex gloves , surgical masks ? The Doom scoffed at all and gleefully spread its poisons . In the second week of the New Year , the death toll topped ten million and showed no sign of abating . Though his illness went unreported , and his death was kept secret for nearly two days , the President of the United States succumbed . Those heads of state fell like dominoes . Despite extreme precautions , they proved just as susceptible as the homeless , the panicked , the churchgoer , the atheist , the priest , and the sinner . In its wave through D.C . in the third week of the Doom , more than sixty percent of Congress lay dead or dying , along with more than a billion others worldwide . With the government in chaos, new fears of terrorist attacks lit fires. But terrorists were as busy dying as the rest. Urban areas became war zones , with thinning police forces fighting against survivors who looked at the end of humanity as an opportunity for blood and brutality. Or profit .

Year One (Chronicles of The One) by Nora Roberts

Watching Death Enter

But Jonah knew death when he saw it . Sometimes he could feel it . He tried not to — it could get in the way of the work — tried to block out that knowing . Like , sometimes he knew that some guy who brushed by him on the street had cancer . Or some kid running by would fall off his bike that very afternoon and end up with a greenstick fracture of his right wrist . Sometimes he even knew the kid’s name , his age , where he lived . It could be that specific , so he’d made it a kind of game for a while . But it spooked him , so he stopped . With MacLeod , the knowing came on fast and strong , wouldn’t let him block it out . Worse , this came with something new . A seeing . The seizure had stopped by the time he and Patti Ann had arrived but , as he worked and called out details for Patti Ann to radio in , Jonah could see the patient in bed , rolling over , vomiting on the floor . Calling for help before he fell out of bed and began to convulse . He could see the wife rushing in , hear her voice as she cried out . He could hear it , see it all as if watching it on a big screen . And he didn’t fucking like it . When they rolled up to the ambulance bay , he did his best to turn off that screen , to do whatever he could to help save the life he knew was already gone .

Year One (Chronicles of The One) by Nora Roberts

Mother and Mortality

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It hadn’t occurred to me that my mother would die. Until she was dying, the thought had never entered my mind. She was monolithic and insurmountable, the keeper of my life. She would grow old and still work in the garden. This image was fixed in my mind, like one of the memories from her childhood that I’d made her explain so intricately that I remembered it as if it were mine. She would be old and beautiful like the black-and-white photo of Georgia O’Keeffe I’d once sent her. I held fast to this image for the first couple of weeks after we left the Mayo Clinic, and then, once she was admitted to the hospice wing of the hospital in Duluth, that image unfurled, gave way to others, more modest and true.

 –Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

  • Pacific Crest Trail: Website and Twitter

Proper Burial

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Jesse WildShoe died last night and today was the funeral and usually there’s a wake but none of us had the patience or energy to mourn for days so we buried Jesse right away and dug the hole deep because Jesse could fancydance like God had touched his feet. Anyhow we dug the hole all day and since the ground was still a little frozen we kept doing the kerosene trick and melting the ice and frost and when we threw a match into the bottom of the grave it looked like I suppose hell must look and it was scary. There we were ten little Indians making a hell on earth for a fancydancer who already had enough of that shit and probably wouldn’t want to have any more of it and I kept wondering if maybe we should just take his body high up in the mountains and bury him in the snow that never goes away. Maybe we just sort of freeze him so he doesn’t have to feel anything anymore and especially not some crazy ideas of heaven or hell.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Dying Alive

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If they killed him tonight, at least he would die alive.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Note: This book is narrated by Death. The plot occurs during WWII. It is a very good book, with both humorous and serious aspects.

Gardens Are Heaven

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The late Harold Epstein said that the first thing he did after he got to Heaven, after picking a flower he’d never seen before, was to thank God for the priceless gift of garden insanity.”

God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian, by Kurt Vonnegut

Note: In this book ‘Garden insanity’ = being an avid and passionate gardener.

Burial Customs

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“Mrs. Benjamin J. Vines (Alice) Born April 13, 1909 Died June 4, 1949 A Faithful Woman   Faithful to B. J. Vines? It seemed an odd thing to put on a tombstone, but then everything about the white man’s burial customs seemed odd to Chee. The Navajos lacked this sentimentality about corpses. Death robbed the body of its value. Even its identity was lost with the departing chindi. What the ghost left behind was something to be disposed of with a minimum risk of contamination to the living. The names of the dead were left unspoken, certainly not carved in stone.”

People of Darkness (Navajo Mysteries Book 4) by Tony Hillerman

Time Is Cruel

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“What a slut time is. She screws everybody.”

-The Fault in Our Stars by John Green