Monday, 25 August 2008

"It's How He Would Have Wanted To Go"

How would you like to die?

From heart failure brought on by an overdose of Class A drugs, suffered whilst enjoying carnal relations with Girls Aloud?

From multiple organ failure after a high speed crash sustained whilst competing in a Formula 1 race?

In the arms of the person you love the most?

These are the romantic ideals. Okay, two of them are romantic. Dying of a drugs overdose whilst shagging Girls Aloud might just be wishful thinking on the part of some misguided souls, and certainly my top choice of the three, but what that notion has in common with the other two is that the protagonist has passed away whilst doing something that made them happy.

A little while ago I wrote of how the only thing I need to do before I die is see Stevie Wonder play live. In 36 days I will be seeing Stevie Wonder play live. Does this mean that I can die on the way home and be happy about it? I'll leave to one side the horrible journey home from the O2 Arena, something that might make me want to hurt myself if I can't find someone else to lash out at. Would I really like to die after seeing Stevie Wonder play live? I don't think I would.

Here are some of the things that I believe I'll be feeling during my journey home in 36 days time: Happiness. Elation. And that's about it, really. I expect to feel deliriously happy, the kind of happiness that I normally only experience when with my friends at a particularly good Glastonbury. The world will be mine, I'll feel unbeatable. I'll believe that I can do anything. It will feel very, very good.

One thing I won't feel like doing at this time is dying. No Sirree, Bob. For a few fleeting hours I'll feel like I want to live forever. Dying is the very last thing I'll feel like doing. Who on earth would want to die when they're at their happiest? That makes no sense.

In conversation with my flatmate two minutes ago he said that he actually would like to die doing something that made him happy. He cited as an example the time he went powerboat racing and thought he really might die. He also thought that if he was going to die he might as well go in this way because then his family and friends would be consoled with the knowledge that he died doing something he loved, which is a good point and makes my belief appear selfish. Which is exactly what it is.

If you Google the title of this post you'll find links to stories about the deaths of famous or noteworthy people. Somewhere in each of these stories you'll find a family member or friend quoted, saying "It's the way....". When someone has died and there's a quote saying that it's the way they would have wanted to die, who is coming out with that statement? It's not the person who has just died, is it? No, it's someone who loved them, someone who is grieving. Someone who wants the hurt to go away, someone who wants to rationalise an irrational situation. Roger Daltrey said it about John Entwistle. I can quite believe that Entwistle felt this way, but wouldn't he have liked to have done it some time in the future so he could have done a bit more of what made him happy? Of course he would. When someone is taken from us prematurely, or when they're enjoying life, it's always a tragedy and no amount of pontificating about the nobility of their death can change that. "It's how he would have wanted to go" makes sense only to those who are still alive.

In a bed.
On my own.
In my sleep.
After being made redundant from a job I love.
Then discovering that my wife is having an affair with my best friend.
Who also happens to be the man who made me redundant.
And then accidently running my dog over as I drove home after that discovery.
Feeling that life is terrible and will not ever get any better.
Having recently told my all of my family and friends that I love them.

That's how I'd like to go.

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