‘Shuffling off’ to wherever
Shakespeare called it “that sleep of death.” The mystery writer Raymond Chandler called it “The Big Sleep.”
Death has many names. Religious people refer to it as a “new beginning,” a wondrous New Life in the Kingdom of Heaven and so on and so forth. Many of these “believers” have brilliant minds. They are convinced that a wonderful “life” (in whatever unknown form) awaits us after we “shuffle off this mortal coil” (Shakespeare again).
There are also many people with brilliant minds who call that a load of hooey. They tell you (as though they have some inside information) that they are “convinced” death is The End, Lights Out, Darkness, Oblivion, a whole lot of Nothing.
Starting over again
But nobody really knows, and because of the Big Unknown, most people try to make the most of this earthly existence before they shuffle off to Buffalo or wherever.
When a wife, husband, loved one, soul mate, darlin’ companion whatever you want to call them dies first many people have the will and the energy to start again with a new mate, perhaps in a new place, a whole new beginning.
Like this guy I used to have coffee with, Steverino. He’s in his late 70s and his wife of many decades died a few years ago, and then a year or two ago, while I mourned my wife and moaned about being alone and all the rest of it he goes out and meets a new woman, the “love of his life,” he called her. Well, that knocked me for a loop. But good for him. I can’t say I envy him, and although I know he’s a whole lot happier than me these days, I’m just not interested in going down that road again.
Growing old together
My one and only plan for these septuagenarian years was to grow old, well, older anyway, with my wife. When she went before me, it hit me sideways because being quite a bit older than her I expected to “go first.”
I had hoped for a few more years in this house together, sitting in our armchairs, drinking, smoking, reading, doing one thing and another, but mainly just growing old — okay, older — together.
Now only one of the armchairs is occupied — with my sorry ass and there I be, not necessarily waiting around to die, as one gung-ho “get out there and meet someone else” fellah told me, but also not prepared to start a new life with someone else.
I’m just sitting here drinking and smoking and reading and every now and then I look up with this damn sadness and ask: “Where are you, honey?”
‘Daisy a Day’ written and performed by Jud Strunk,* presented by Ned Nickerson
*Jud Strunk was a private pilot and owned a 1941 Fairchild single-engine plane. On October 5, 1981, just after taking off from Carrabassett Valley Airport in Maine he had a heart attack. The plane flipped over, falling 300 feet to the ground, killing him and his passenger Dick Ayotte, a longtime friend and local businessman. Jud was 45 years old.