“I wanted to do my bit to change things around, to win back some dignity for the dying, because I don’t think silence serves the interests of any of us.” - Cory TaylorTweet It!
I recently read a powerful piece in The New Yorker by author Cory Taylor. It was an excerpt from her book “Dying: A Memoir” and in it, Taylor reflects on an interview she once gave in which she answered people’s everyday questions about dying.
Having been diagnosed with cancer, these were questions she had already begun to answer for herself.
What struck me about Taylor’s answers wasn’t what she said but how she said it. You can feel through her writing the sense of clarity and peace she felt with her own mortality.
Taylor’s diagnosis was sad and unfortunate, and she ultimately passed away in July of 2016. But her pending death was a fate she appeared to face with two feet firmly on the ground.
Here are a few of her answers that particularly struck me:
When asked if she was scared of dying: “Yes, I’m scared, but not all the time. When I was first diagnosed, I was terrified. I had no idea that the body could turn against itself and incubate its own enemy ...
… But I’m used to dying now. It’s become ordinary and unremarkable, something everybody, without exception, does at one time or another.”
When asked if she had regrets: “Yes, I have regrets, but as soon as you start rewriting your past you realize how your failures and mistakes are what define you. Take them away and you’re nothing.”
When asked if there’s anything good about dying: “No, there is nothing good about dying. It is sad beyond belief. But it is part of life, and there is no escaping it. Once you grasp that fact, good things can result.”
Taylor’s words remind me that coming to terms with dying can be the thing that enables us to really start living.
It’s an inescapable reality that can force us to rethink what we want from life and take agency over the limited time we have left.
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