I read a book yesterday. Yes a whole book, from start to finish. I’m a slow reader, so although Cory Taylor’s ‘Dying: A Memoir’ is only 147 pages long, I didn’t reach the end until early evening, having started it over a cup of tea, sometime in the morning. It’s an extraordinary piece of writing, and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone.
It was an article in the New Yorker that first grabbed me. One of those clear, well written pieces that draws you in and holds you right up to the last full stop. I found myself nodding throughout, and thinking how Cory Taylor’s ‘take’ on things (particularly the end of things) chimed with my own. With one big difference, of course. She was terminally ill whilst sharing her perspective. I was reading her words in the hope that I might have the courage and the wit to maintain such a clear vision after I‘ve been handed my ticket to the ‘out’ door.
Although she doesn’t use the phrase I’m so fond of using: “our lives are sparks of intense light, between two great unknowns,” her mind-set runs along those lines.
We need books such as this one. Talking about death and dying is still such a taboo. Even in our so-called enlightened society, the reluctance to air the subject is all too obvious. It’s probably largely driven by fear. But I often sense that there’s a good deal of disguised superstition, too. A kind of denial that springs from tempting fate. If we talk about it, it might happen to us. Well here’s the news. It will happen to us, all of us, whether we talk about it or not. I’m just so grateful to people like Cory Taylor, who choose to share their personal thoughts and experiences about facing death.
On the back cover of the book a quote from the TLS nails it. “A manual for the discussion of death, full of wisdom, vulnerability and reassurance”.