Tuesday, 5 November 2013

05/11/13 - Finality

I think I saw someone die this morning.

As I approached the bus stop I spotted a small crowd on the other side of the road. Somebody, who had presumably been knocked off their bike, was lying on the pavement under a blanket. A number of cyclists had stopped to help, along with a chap on a motorbike, although it wasn't clear what had happened to leave the poor guy so helpless. But it was clear that he was in trouble.
After a few minutes an ambulance arrived. The paramedics rushed to his aid, immediately beginning CPR. That brutal, punching-him-in-the-chest style of CPR that signifies a certain desperation and urgency, with it ebbing away hope. It went on for several minutes, indicating that their efforts were proving fruitless. As my bus drew up, a second ambulance arrived.

I've often thought about what might be the 'correct' way to die. To me, it seems that the best way is at a ripe old age, with the minimum of discomfort, in your own bed. Just slip gently away, as if going to sleep.
For others, a certain gravitas is required. Remember Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, screaming that he should have been left to die with dignity on the battlefield as his forefathers had done? 'I hope I die before I get old,' sang The Who (a hope that appears to have gone unfulfilled, presumably to their great relief). Live fast, die young, leave a beautiful corpse.
Some want to go doing what they love - sailing, flying, driving. Some wilfully spiral into self-destruction. Everyone has their own view of what may be the preferred way to shuffle off this mortal coil.

But I doubt anybody hopes for their final moments to be spent desperately clinging to the last shreds of existence, flat on their back on a bridge over the Thames on a drizzly Tuesday, a crowd of gawping onlookers trying to glean the juicy details of what just happened. That's a shitty way to die.




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