The death notices are neither surprising nor frighteningly frequent, just more frequent. I also expect the sun to set later today. My personal sunset could happen anytime. When it does, I don’t want you all to repair to a Wailing Wall, or start getting Masses said for the repose of my “soul”, or even to dust off your “Golden Book of Indulgences” to get me out of Purgatory (a waste of time, when you realize that, if either place existed, I would be in the other one, in the deepest depths of Hell).
All this comes to mind since I received this morning news of the death of Ed, a schoolmate of seven decades ago, a highly successful chartered accountant, a licensed pilot and a victim of Parkinson’s. Almost all of our mates will be talking about Ed, R.I.P. Ed is not at rest. Ed is dead and already decaying. He no longer exists, except in the memories of some who had the pleasure of the company of a man whose life was one of achievement and, I hope, of love given and love received. He is a corpse without cognition or feeling. He will live, not in the bosom of Abraham or united with his parents but only as a remembered, respected and well-loved schoolmate, whose post-school life, moreover, is known only to a privileged few. His post-earthly life is the quaint product of non-atheists’ credulity.
Words like these will seem cruel, insensitive and unnecessary to many. But death is a challenge for all of us to recognize that it marks a definitive “finis” to our lives. Our old M.B.K. school motto says it all : “Finis coronat opus”, “The End Crowns the Work”. Ed’s is over. Ours soon will be. But mine is not finished yet. This is not (I hope) my Last Post …
RIDENDA RELIGIO .