Comments from the New York Times article on facing the inevitability of death
Ed H., Houston:
I am 83 and my body is beginning to wear out. It should, I spent most of those 83 years living exactly how I wanted to live and experiencing those things I wanted to experience, including some activities that made great demands on my body.
As I think back, I am glad that I spent my efforts on the trip, not the destination.
Allerias, Airville, PA
I am not so old, yet I have already lost my childhood home: my attic room with it’s narrow bed, the secret ways through the woods, the hidden grave of my beloved dog, the spot where I could hide in the trees and watch the deer, the brook, where we swam and drank it’s sweet water, the old apple trees where the bluebirds nested and still bore sweet apples in their dotage, the meadow that was full of wild strawberries, the place in the forest where my beloved grandparents ashes are spred; all these containers of my childhood are now a golf course.
DC Lambert, New Jersey:
After my mother died at 56 at home I remember finding a small box of her precious things—not jewels. Diaries & letters. I went through her diary which started when she was a girl of 16 & worried about her acne & what to wear when a boy stopped by. It was natural, & entirely in her voice.The ink & paper seemed fresh - it could have been written yesterday.The entries stopped abruptly as diaries do, just before she married my father. I held the small diary in my hands & looked at the cover, the whole thing, & it felt I was holding her life in my hands, a slim small thing with a random beginning & abrupt end. And I thought, “That’s it? that’s our lives?” I still think that most times.
ACW, New Jersey:
The most valuable lesson I ever read on the importance of the present moment is in the Iliad and the Odyssey. In the former, Thetis gives her son Achilles a shield crafted by Hephaestus, illustrating two possible lives: a short but glorious one, or a long but undistinguished one. He chooses the former. In the Odyssey, Odysseus meets the ghosts of Achilles and his beloved companion Patroclus in the underworld. The shade of Achilles, as I recall, tells Odysseus that if he had it to do over, he’d choose to be the meanest common shepherd living, rather than a dead hero.
LynchmomVT, Pomfret, VT:
Perhaps my children, not yet “over the hill,” see only their own climb, with its horizon still tipped toward the bright sky. They can’t see the Valley ahead of them and so they either ignore or fear this great unknown. It is a shame that our culture doesn’t value the voices of those ahead who could hold a light for us so we needn’t fear the darkness, even if the path be strewn with rocks.