A Third Round With Death

My son brought up the topic of death again, the third time in recent memory. I am trying to discern the source of this, but haven’t managed to do it yet. Quincy would have figured it out, so would have Columbo and Kojak, but they have more training in this area than I do.

Forgive me for being insouciant about this, but I am in a bit of a black mood. It is not an easy conversation and I am a little concerned that my answers are just not satisfactory, but then again they do not feel great to me.

I think that the lack of reassurance is because we are both interested in more of a tactile answer, something that you can touch and feel. In the end it is another area that is relegated to faith, none can provide substantive answers that we can all believe in. No one has gone and come back, at least no one that I have encountered and believe.

I also found it to be oddly coincidental that an essay I read this week discussed Ozymandias.

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
I suppose that this poem alludes to one of the ultimate fears of people, that we will die without having made any sort of impact upon the world. But he is too young to debate philosophy with. Mighty Carthage may have fallen, but it’s echoes are still heard.

Rashi, Maimonidies, Moshe Rabbeinu, Pasteur, Einstein, they all can be found around us. But like I said, he is too young to think about these things.

Although he has raised the topic of reincarnation because now he is convinced that when you die you come back. I hear myself saying the Shmoneh Esrei, “Mehayei Meytim”…………………

He really wants to know when we are going to die, he’d like a definitive answer. Not to mention that he wants to know if I am going to drive to heaven. I used the term because it was simple and didn’t feel like entering into a discussion about Olam Ha-bah because a large number of the people he encounters will not be familiar with the term and I do not want to muddy the waters.

In the midst of a very serious subject, there is a part of me that has a mental image of the “Grim Reaper” at my door. He is there, scythe in hand, long black robe when I come up and poke him in the eyes, “Three Stooges” style. As he grabs his head I take the scythe out of his hands, spin him around, kick him in the ass and close the door.

Nothing like embarrassing death to make your day. Ok, it is time for his shower. Perhaps I will write more about this later.

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