In death’s vicinity – the Eastern Front

“We lived in death’s vicinity. But it was not death itself that was grievous. Its indecision, its omni-presence, constituted its horror and and its greatness. It was not the long-spared it loved but the quickly-felled. Yet, it transformed us with each passing year, led us through the secret chambers of the soul, awakened the angel in the good and the spirit of Cain in the bad. It filled us up and boarded us over, cast out fruit from us and created a sea of misery from a drop of melancholy. Thus it grew up over us like a triumphant tree.

On Dying: “At the Customs Station”

Death is like a foreign continent, about which none who tread its ground will report back. Its secrets engage us so intensely that its shadows darken the path that leads to it – that is, we do not distinguish sharply enough between death and dying. The distinction is important, in that much of what we ascribe to death has already been completed in dying, as our glance and imagination still probe now and again into the intermediary zone. As distant as death might still lie, we can already taste the climate surrounding it.