A gift to the community: the question

It is about life, and about the suddenness of death.
Background: My brother and his pal, Robert, were in a boat, bass fishing, in anticipation of an impending bass tournament on that lake. In other words, they were scouting. We are talking about a giant lake that has waves like the ocean.
And without warning, the storm came. Rains and lightning.
Sure enough, lightning struck so close to the bass boat, that my brother was knocked out of his seat. He landed on his back, sort of out of it by the impact. Apparently, his head smacked the deck.
Robert came to his rescue, knelt over him, asked him, "Are you dead?"
"Are you dead?" is my household, family, office, client, question in similar circumstance, as we all wish to know!
I challenge ANYBODY here to ask that question in similar circumstance. And if you do, I hope you will give feedback to the rest of us.

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Shahryar's picture

my darling wife, shaharazade, was quite drunk at an outside party, fell and hit her head on the pavement. I took her home. I wondered if it would be worth it to go to the emergency room but I know she hates hospitals.

I watched her closely, felt the huge bump on her noggin and was quite worried. But I know even mentioning the subject ("are you dead? dying?") would have made her....well, not relaxed and would have freaked her out.

On the other hand, I smacked myself a good one almost a year ago. I was trying to dismantle a suitcase. Don't ask. Anyway, this metal rod in the thing hit me extremely hard on my forehead, creating a gusher. "Uh-oh", I thought. "Shaharazade is gonna be mad". I was cleaning it, trying to stop the blood flow when she saw it and yes, she expressed fear and concern. But I knew I wasn't dying so it didn't bother me. I've got a lovely scar, though. I suppose if you know you're not dead it's probably ok.

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the answer.
"Yes."

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studentofearth's picture

when asked. As a matter of good form the question should be asked silently to oneself, but in an adrenaline filled moments I have occasionally spoken it out loud.

No - after rushing up to an unmoving friend whose horse tripped and completed a somersault at full run. He had not been able to fully clear from the saddle before the horse rolled over him. Took a moment for the breath to restart. He did not remember me asking the question and checking his pulse.

Yes - was offered by the third person in the room. I had only stepped out of the room to turn off a light in another room. My Mom chose that moment to pass on. She did not make it into week three of hospice care.

Not yet - (asked and answered the question myself) Again my Mom, first morning after moving her and Dad found her unresponsive in a living room chair. Her glucose meter read 30. Choice call 911 or treat low first, then call. Decided to treat before calling knew I could due something within 5 minutes and EMT response time would probably be 20 minutes. Grabbed a mortar and pestle to chrush glucose tabs, added water to paste consistency and placed between cheek and gum. As I was dialing her eyes were flickered open, hung up the phone and did the normal routine for low blood sugars.

Comic relief only seems to come up when the answer is no and enough time has passed the initial feeling of panic has faded.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

where the main door to the building was nothing but an empty frame. Rather than opening the door like normal, we simply hopped through the hole. Well one day I was going to film a student movie, but when I hopped through I discovered an exposed nail - the hard way. I filmed a movie with a kitchen towel wrapped around a gushing scalp wound. Later I would accidentally destroy the sound track, so it was all for nothing.

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On to Biden since 1973

There’s a word that should chill our blood. Wood chippers too.

We had three small hackberries, 5-6” diameter, clustered along the bank of the spring fed creek that ran across our property. A thunderstorm had bent them over quite a bit. Their roots had been undermined by dozens of frog strangler storms over the years. It was obvious they needed to go although nothing stood out as terribly wrong about them. They were just a bit bent.

My wife wanted them gone but I didn’t like where they were plus I thought they might straighten enough to leave up. Six months or so later that idea was dead. The difficulties of removing them did not look any better though. There was not a lot of bank to stand on and the approach to the only safe way to cutting them left poor choices for escape. The greenhouse was in the line of fire too. The 5-6’ drop into the creek wasn’t much of a hazard but I really didn’t like the looks of the job.

It took about three weeks to plan it out and screw up the courage to have a go. The first two went right where I wanted them. The one I was most worried about was next. I’ve learned to do dry runs on difficult jobs and spent about half an hour going through the job. Where to stand, where to cut the tree, what to do with the saw (a big problem on this cut) if things went sideways, and my escape route. It was a good plan, well practiced.

It was too awkward to cut low so I chose to cut it about mid thigh high. That way I had a good safe place to drop the saw and GTFO if needed. Everything went just as I imagined it until about half way though when I watched a split run really fast from the cut up the trunk. Big time no bueno. My thumb starts moving to the cutoff and my hand moves the saw to the safe place but doesn’t quite open in time. Thumb missed too. That split becomes a chasm. The piece of trunk that is free snaps right at me as the trunk hinges at a spot about face high. The top of the tree is headed towards the greenhouse as it twists.

My hand opens as the trunk catches me nipple high, sweeps me off the bank depositing me on my back in about 8” of mud and water, then piles in on top. The saw is right where I had planned and is idling contentedly.

My wife was watching from near the greenhouse. She’s very relieved the tree deflected off a branch of the big maple and missed the greenhouse. After it lands she looked at me. Or tried to anyway. I’m gone. The saw is still happy purring up on the edge of the bank. Where the hell is he she’s thinking when this demented cackling reaches up for her from out of the creek.

Fuck me! I was still alive. I had some road rash from the knobby bits that festoon a hackberry’s bark but other than that was only in need of a shower.

She didn’t need to ask if I was dead. Her “Yeah. Maybe we should have left it alone after all.” just made me cackle louder.

That damn undercut stump got me again about a year later. I was standing in the creek cutting it out after pulling all the crap out that collected from the latest pig and chicken downpour. My trusty Stihl kicked back, caught my brand new pair of gloves, and sliced and diced the skin on my left index and middle finger. There was no permanent damage but it hurt like all hell for a few weeks and eventually sloughed off all the skin on those two fingers while healing. Close but no cigar, saw. That’s the last time I used the big one. I hope it treated the guy I sold it to before moving well.

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"Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now..."

Raggedy Ann's picture

Yes and have been for some time. I'm not sure who types these comments, but they appear and now with a picture of someone who looks perfectly alive! WHEW! Being dead is not easy in this world! Pleasantry

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The UFO’s are coming to unify us.

mimi's picture

for what it is worth. No, I am not dead. I am lucky I know that I am not dead and am happy to clear that up first.

But then there is the story of my mother, who lived with her husband together for her whole life, beds side by side, holding hands like they did since they were sixteen. She did hold his hand til he died. She just did not know it.

My sister lived next door, in the other part of a duplex house. My mother called her with a bit of timid voice and asked "Can you come over, I don't know if Dad is dead?".

As I was not in Germany at that time, I don't know exactly what happened. But apparently he died and still the woman he had spent his whole life with him at his side, was not sure, if he was dead or not. She just hold his hand.

To make things easy, I know for sure that people always know that they are alive, when they are alive, especially if they just had been very close to death (like in war and your survived a bomb attack etc).

I have the problem that I have nobody to ask and would not know, when my son died. The same thing, I have nobody around me, who would know how to tell my son, when and that I died. I think I will get myself a tattoo with the name and SS and an address of my son, so that whoever finds me dead, could contact him.

May I wish you all a long, happy life at this point?

The thing is a bit hard, when In fact you long for to be dead, but someone up on high, doesn't let you go.

Life is good (says my telephone LG). Well that is worth a discussion. Is it good?
Have a good life, all.

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phillybluesfan's picture

Twenty-five years ago I was minding my own business, reading on of my Albuquerque brother n law's poetry magazines if I recall correctly, when the left leg began to vibrate. Had no idea what was going on. Called me wife into the room to watch. The mini-seizure did not last long. Without warning, it would recur from time to time.

Turns out there was a benign tumor pressing on the right side of my brain. The neurosurgeon who detected it with an MRI assured me it was not cancerous. On the other hand, it had to come out.

Eventually that led to nine hours on the operating table and six months away from my duties as a high school photojournalism teacher. It also meant periodic MRIs to see it it came back ... since it's location at the top of a major blood vessel made total removal too risky.

Well it did start to grow again. Fortunately, it was possible to attack it with a concentrated radiation dose that took minutes rather than hours. My adventure did not end there. The radiation zapping killed the tumor. But the overdose of steroids, meant to reduce brain swelling, landed me in the University of New Mexico psychiatric unit. Thankfully, my Jekyl & Hyde reaction to the steroid would go away once the drug got out of my system.

A graduate school roommate and another good friend were no so lucky. An aggressive brain cancer killed both of them. Feel like I dodged a bullet.

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Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets

snoopydawg's picture

@phillybluesfan

Your whole ordeal sounds horrible enough, but to end it with a reaction to steroids...whooboy yuck.

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Sam killed Mr. Hanky Santa Poo

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Lookout's picture

Perhaps the most memorable is as a kid playing in the waves at Jekyll Island, GA. I was about 10 and got caught in an under tow, As I was tumbled along the seafloor I remember thinking well I sure didn't get to live for long, and about that time was spit out to the top. Wasn't my time yet.

As someone up thread suggested, maybe the best answer is, "Not Yet!".

A good reminder to treasure every day.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

edg's picture

I just reconnected with a friend from childhood. Her younger brother was my best friend back in the projects in Detroit. He died at 62 years old. But the thought of death regards what all 7 children in the family experienced. Their mother died and the whole family was grieving. After the funeral, their father sat the children down in the living room, stood in front of them, and killed himself with a shotgun. My friend says she doesn't remember anything from childhood. I understand why.

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I know 2 men who shot themselves under the chin, and both are still alive, although their eyes are wide apart, no tongue tips, no front teeth.
One was my client. He had a hard time testifying at his divorce.
The other one was the opponent party in a divorce. He wore a mask, his eyes gushed tears. The judge pulled me aside, said "I can't believe you took it so easy on that guy."

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enhydra lutris's picture

bearing the Eat Your Face Logo that asked

"Am I Dead Yet?"

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

QMS's picture

A question exuded from the mind after some rather nasty close encounters.
One wonders when consciousness regains perspective against the backdrop
of total darkness. When the pain surfaces, the next question is: why not?

Someone mentioned in a thread a few days ago about the option of choosing
life. Perhaps that is it. When those close die, I am more relieved it is sudden.
Not drawn out in an insufferable downward slope. It takes a certain amount of
willingness to let go. Mindfulness, if you will.

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snoopydawg's picture

I came very close to not being alive when I was 17. A few days after my accident I realized how very lucky I was and I have never forgotten it. I’m bummed because my body won’t let me live life to its fullest and poverty has kept me home, but hopefully this year will be better and I can do more things. I so want to travel.

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Sam killed Mr. Hanky Santa Poo

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@snoopydawg The only place we go is to a cabin at a nearby lake. We take groceries, stay away from everyone. It is secluded enough so that we are hardly aware of people in the nearby cabins.
I have no idea when I will feel comfortable in an airport or on a bus, train, or taxi.
I hope in the future you will get to see the world.

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snoopydawg's picture

@on the cusp

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Sam killed Mr. Hanky Santa Poo

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@snoopydawg Florida and Hawaii. A friend recently went to Hawaii for a few months on a job. He paid $46 for a burger and fries. I knew it was expensive, but that is shocking.
Take a friend with you. It always helps to have a navigator while you drive.

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mimi's picture

@snoopydawg
In my mind, Hawaii's nature is beautiful and got more beautiful due to the lock down and the resulting less traffic for a while. Everything else of HI (socially, I don't even try to build myself an opinion about its political trends) is a social nightmare of exploitation, imho, which apparently nobody seems to see and mentally denies.

There is just no way to not get angry about it. Last I remember, it is not allowed to bring a caravan to the island. And to eat a burger in Hawaii is simply ... totally un-Hawaiian.

Do not travel to the island by yourself. HI is an escapist's dream and its cage at the same time. A lady, I did not like much, who claimed to be a therapist, said "The island takes you in and then spits you out". I think these days they don't even bother to spit you out, or they don't let you in, whatever is easier or from wherever the wind blows.

To be in denial of HI's social fabric, you must have had a lot of very bad experiences in your life outside of HI, to not be able to see it.

But we could just believe in miracles and hope that you travel the way you wished you could, and be a 'happy camper' about it. May the road rise up to meet you and all those wisdoms...

Always good luck to you and be safe.

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@mimi never mention racial or cultural problems.
The close friend i have that taught summer school once said that she became afraid to go out and mingle.
FWIW, they are all single white women.

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mimi's picture

@on the cusp
and room mate and partner to pay the bills, were never a target for people, who might have a problem with such a relation. When I said "social nightmare of exploitation" this was not to mean a racial or cultural problem, but more a working class situation between the millionaire owners of land and companies on the island of Maui and their workers. I can't speak of any other environment other the one of Maui.

Only after the arrival of 'the proud boys' recently, my son felt as a target of potential race based hate.

But that was not Honolulu. Honolulu is a complete other ball game, I would say form what I hear. The islands are very different and I would not want to try to verbalize here what I may see as different between Oahu, Big Island and Maui. My son is quite relieved to not live in Honolulu these days. I know all three Islands as an outside visitor only but with a bit of an insiders view through my son, who lived for a while on Big Island as well.

Higher powers made the relationship fell apart and the former girlfriend and partner is now in Georgia, whereas my son remained in HI. He refuses to go to Georgia, feeling both together there would be a target. He had made such an experience more than a decade ago with another white girl friend he had in North Carolina. Both were physically harassed and rammed by a car with drivers who were probably something like proud boys of yester years.

I think that especially native Hawaiians are very friendly and not filled with racial resentments towards to people who not white.

Please get your information about HI from lotlizard. She is the expert and insider.

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wendy davis's picture

not quite yet, and ya fookin' idjit, can't you see my DNR ankle bracelet?

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QMS's picture

@wendy davis

may get their attention

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@QMS or slacks.

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@wendy davis Years later, we all wonder if Robert had considered what to do if my brother had answered "yes".

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