Thursday, November 3, 2011

Last Words


I must confess that, since stories by survivors of near-death experiences surfaced in the media years ago, I have been fascinated by them.  Those lights, that tunnel, that...joy--what do they mean?  Are they the final flashes of dying neurons, or are they glimpses into what Shakespeare called "the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns"?

The dying are necessarily brief in their accounts of what is happening to them.  My father was comparatively descriptive when he whispered ecstatically his last words to my mother:  "I feel God so close to me."  My maternal grandmother, who had certainly never heard of near-death experiences, at the very end smiled, exclaimed, "Oh, such light!" and died.

In  the New York Times' recently published eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs, (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/opinion/mona-simpsons-eulogy-for-steve-jobs.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1 )  Mona Simpson says that his final words were "Oh wow.  Oh wow.  Oh wow."  

I find solace in these stories.  I am consoled when I read that people who have come very close to dying often say that they have lost their fear of death, and live out their lives in serenity and peace.  Is it foolish to find comfort in something that seems to answer our deepest hope, but hasn't been proven by replicable double-blind experiments?

I don't own an Apple, an iPod, an iPhone, or an iPad, and I've never watched Toy Story.  But I'm grateful to Steve Jobs for leaving life's final gate ajar for just a second, before closing it forever.

7 comments :

  1. Lovely. And I'm cheered to read your ancestors' words as well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is beautifully said. I hadn't heard about Jobs' last words. Goosebumps!

    ReplyDelete
  3. our handyman, jerry, had a heart attack last year. he was over at our house last week, talking about a job we need done, and he told me that after the heart attack there were complications. "i died," he said simply. the doctor brought him back to life, and now he is doing well, but he said he briefly died and that it was very very peaceful. jerry is the most sensible person i know, and i take solace in what he says.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Laurie, thank you for that. We need as many of these stories as we can get.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I saw that article too and have been thinking about his last words ever since!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lali, you are a poet. Thanks for this.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dona, when one has lost a close family member, as you and I have, these "last words" are especially reassuring.

    ReplyDelete