Many years ago, a friend of mine was diagnosed with a liver problem. It could be managed with medication and a proper diet, but it would almost certainly lead, decades later, to cirrhosis. It is not easy to find out that cirrhosis is in your future, and worse if you don’t even drink. “What happens when cirrhosis sets in?” my friend asked his doctor. Now his doctor is a wise if somewhat cranky man. He did not assure my friend that everything would be all right or that science would come up with a wonder drug before then.
“But what would you do if you had cirrhosis of the liver?” my friend pressed him.
“I would go to Paris,” said the doctor. “I would eat foie gras, drink wine, and live it up until the end.”
Since then, “Is it time to go to Paris?” has become my euphemism for “Are you seriously/terminally ill?” Some would argue that it makes death sound like something to look forward to, but it’s also more considerate towards the people who will be left behind. The dead feel no pain, it’s the living who must endure sorrow, guilt (“I should’ve done this, I should’ve done that”) and loss. It would be a final kindness to leave them with the image of their friend having a Pernod at Deux Magots than wasting away in a web of plastic tubes hooked up to machines. Death is terrible but inevitable, and humans make art so they can live with this fact. So much time and effort is spent warding off death and its advance party, age. The only way to prepare for death is to live fully, and maybe write a DNR, buy a memorial plan, and leave a playlist for the wake.
Read our column at InterAksyon.