Monday, 23 November 2015

Ali Steventon - A Sudden Departure

What do you do when death becomes the norm, when you get used to seeing postings of people you know, some of whom you know personally, who died last night? Ali Steventon died last night. She had ALS. I met her online and we corresponded about ALS, also known as Motor Neuron Disease in her home of Adelaide, South Australia.

She passed away last night, yet I heard from her just a couple of days ago. This is how it often goes with ALS; you expect people will die, but they seem to go suddenly. It doesn't matter that they have been seriously ill for some time, a candidate for respiratory failure for many months. It still seems sudden. After all, I was just corresponding with her online a couple of days ago. There was no warning, no announcement of imminent demise, no shout out over the Internet. Like most of us with this disease, she just stopped breathing one night.

I'm in a strange sort of club. As one of my friends once said, it is "the kind of club people are dying to get out of." In life, nobody gets out alive. With ALS, that becomes all the more apparent. There is no graceful aging, no sunset of life. It's a curtain, a blackout curtain, that hovers above you for months then falls suddenly, closing the last act of your life before you have finished your soliloquy. Your life's monologue, your living dialogue, simply stops, seemingly without warning. This is the group I am in, these players on a stage where the play ends without warning, abruptly.

It will be like that for me to. Everyone will say "but he looked great." I will, nonetheless, depart suddenly, without warning, just as Ali did last night. When my time comes, there will be no advisory notice, no advance email prompting family and friends to rush to my bedside. I will simply go to sleep one night and fail to wake up the next morning.

For Ali, for me, for anyone with ALS, or for everyone in your life as far as death goes, don't wait for that last call, that last moment, that announcement that the curtain will fall.  Be there before. Be here often. Listen to that last dialogue, even if it is not the last one. Those final words will be said in every life. Sometimes you get to hear them. Other times, like with Ali, like with me, you have to be ready for the sudden curtain fall.

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