"The sunny summer days won't go on forever": Tweeting Death

#Death

Sat, Aug 3rd, 2013 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

On The New Yorker, Meghan O'Rourke looks at a series of tweets by NPR host Scott Simon, bedside to his dying mother. The tweets, which were "poignant and haunting" caused "total strangers read what he wrote and responded deeply." I was particularly fascinated by this part:

The tweets began, it seemed, almost as a way to pass the time, to alleviate anxiety: “Watching ChiSox vs Tigers game in ICU w/ mother. Score not improving MY blood pressure.” They captured his mother’s wisecracking, fierce personality: “I tell my mother, ‘You’ll never stop teaching me.’ She said, ‘Well don’t blame me for everything.’ ” But as time passed, and her recovery seemed less likely, Simon’s tweets became meditative, almost ceremonious in their portrayal of the physical difficulty of dying and the impossible pain of saying goodbye: “Mother asks, ‘Will this go on forever?’ She means pain, dread. ‘No.’ She says, ‘But we’ll go on forever. You & me.’ Yes.”

Katie Couric, the “Today” show, and many others retweeted these and similar sentences. The brevity and sequentiality of Twitter eerily evokes the reality of time, allowing us to witness an event. Watching someone die brings us powerfully in touch with how brief?yet intense?each life here is. The tweets, which felt almost aphoristic (a mere hundred and forty characters each), underscored one of the strangest things about being with someone at the end of her life: the surreality of time, the way that time bends and distorts, becomes material. Suddenly, we are aware that the sunny summer days won’t go on forever. Our time is limited. It’s the most obvious thing in the world, and yet the most elusive.

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