Thursday, 13 September 2012


“Do I fear death? No, I am not afraid of being dead because there's nothing to be afraid of, I won't know it. I fear dying, of dying I feel a sense of waste about it and I fear a sordid death, where I am incapacitated or imbecilic at the end which isn't something to be afraid of, it's something to be terrified of.” Christopher Hitchens Mortality
About two weeks ago I read Christopher Hitchens final book Mortality on the train. It is an unfinished work, which is really the only way to conclude a book about death. It is only 100 pages long, I had a 90 minute journey ahead of me to a nervous destination. 'Reading Hitchens will calm me' I thought. I had to be intellectually impressive that night. I knew the book would make me sad. These were going to be my hero's last words.

The book took me an hour to read. It is not an easy read in any regard. I felt as if it took a piece of my soul as I turned to the last page. The train pulled up at Northgate Station and I started sobbing in a carriage full of passengers. The journey still had an half an hour left.  I just could not stop. I shouldn't have read it then, but I had to.

Just a day earlier I found out that a friend died. I had to find answers in a concept that had none. The most trusted source to me was Hitchens, after all he knew death was coming at a rapid pace, cancer slowly destroying his body, as he fought to communicate with every fibre of his body. The book was progressing nicely, and then nothing, he just stopped. The final chapter is full of incomplete thoughts waiting to be elaborated upon. It is one last glimpse into the mind of a man who I regarded as a genius. No goodbyes, no famous last words. Instead the pages had lots of space. Ideas that were like rare steak, still able to be consumed, but badly undercooked. This was not how I wanted to remember him. I wanted his last written idea to be grand and prophetic. I imagined something like 'Give me 5 minutes and I'll tell you I was right. God is not there.' Instead, all I read were a series of ellipses. Perhaps this was his intent all along?

Death seems to pop up everywhere now, even in my football team. Death seems to be stalking me tangenially. No beginning, no end, just a series of unfinished sentences.

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