After striking the cranium the bullet was moving at 900 feet per second, a pathetically sluggish, glacial pace compared to the synaptic lightning that flashed around it. Once in the brain, that is, the bullet came under the mediation of brain time, which gave Anders plenty of leisure to contemplate the scene that, in a phrase he would have abhorred, “passed before his eyes.”
Stephen Jenkinson On How We Deny Our Mortality
At every deathbed and hospital room, I didn’t see sane dying. I saw sedated dying, depressed dying, isolated dying, utterly disembodied dying. Sane dying would require a childhood steeped in death’s presence, an adulthood employed in its service, and an elderhood testifying to its necessity. Sane dying is a village-making event: lots of people with plenty to do, the whole production endorsing life.
No one, I read online, understands why Parkinson’s causes dopamine-producing cells to die off in a region of the brain called the “substantia nigra.” With my limited knowledge of Latin I translated this as the “substantial dark” — a place in my mother’s head where words such as eyebrow, sink, and broccoli had disappeared.
I’ve come to love this island. Hawaii has mostly been subdued by human habitation, but there are still pockets of wilderness, like this one. A trail from our land leads to where I’m sitting on a tablecloth beside the stream with my laptop. When I look at my computer screen, I see my reflection, in which my bald head is hidden by a scarf. I’ve had no hair for six months now, a constant reminder that I have breast cancer.
Taking care of my aging parents is the right thing to do. I don’t regret the decision. But when I came here in 2010, I never imagined that I’d have to stay nearly five years. I’m afraid that, on my mother’s ninety-seventh birthday, I’ll be saying that I never imagined I’d have to stay seven years.