Here’s a delightful topic: dying. Hanging, strangulation, drowning. What’s the worst way to go? Since I can remember, the subject of death has fascinated me. Not a preoccupation, mind you. But a fascination over the process of death. The steps to the hereafter. In the book that changed my life, Sherwin Nuland deconstructs death and makes the mechanics of nevermore palatable and, moreover, he demystifies one of the simplest concepts. I admit, I used to say, “If I die … .” Can you imagine that? If. I heard years later someone say, “Remember, you too will die.” What a beautifully poetic appreciation for the inevitable. Surgically precise. Beautiful, really.
It seems that this past Saturday Bernie Madoff’s eldest, the dauphin, hanged himself from, with and by a dog’s leash. I’m sure this is some cosmic justice of sorts to the victim of Bernie père. Just deserts. It’s a tragedy no matter how you cut it. Back to death, I used to think that hanging had to be beyond horrible: a slow, awful, eye-bulging gagging trip to wherever.
But it turns out that hanging might be a very easy — as suicides go — death. You might be thinking why in the name of Zeus would this interest me. Because it does. Michael Baden, the famed forensic pathologist who was CSI before it was cool, has written eloquently on the subject of death and how it tells us how it happened. Death can come in one of four ways: natural, suicide, homicide or accidental. Even that fact, the compartmentalization of mortality possibilities, speaks to the fact that death makes sense, it’s natural.
And you too will die.