Death remains mysterious.
At my age, there is not a day that passes that the cessation of one’s life does pass through my thoughts for consideration. I have realized that for the last four decades; my life had passed its half-way point if it remains healthy.
That is what makes the comparison between Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Charles Krauthammer, columnist, fascinating, yet distressing, even disastrous.
In his diminishing days of life, the Senator from Arizona has issued a number of angry, almost petulant, statements regarding his deep dislike for President Trump. He has never forgiven Trump for comments in the 2015-16 Republican nominating campaign. He certainly has that right.
In a recent statement the Senator indirectly blamed Trump for the chemical weapons attack in Syria, suggesting that Trump’s recent comments about U.S. troops leaving Syria “very soon” would embolden Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. McCain has questioned Trump’s worldview, and mocks his receiving Vietnam War deferments for….bone spurs.
He thoroughly and theatrically enjoyed gigging Trump in his late-night defeating vote on Obamacare. On his death bed, his anger seems marginally worse. Rightly or Wrongly.
Contrastingly, Charles Krauthammer, who has only weeks to live, writes in his heartbreaking message: I leave this life with no regrets…It was a wonderful life – full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.
The comparison is not only rich….but simply opportune.
Both men face the deep mystery – seemingly quite soon, but very differently. Possibly some are more humbled by the death-thing than others; the majority do not have the luxury or benefit of preparation.
Malcomb Forbes wrote a little book years back, They Went That-A- Way: How the Famous, the Infamous, and the Great Died. Tabloid-bordering in its approach, it does reveal differences in the death of the swells of the western world.
I am comforted by an old Matthew Arnold quote about leaving the building: “In each class, there are born a certain number of natures with a curiosity about their best self, with a bent for seeing things as they are, for disentangling themselves from machinery, for simply concerning themselves with reason and the will of God, and doing their best to make these prevail…and this bent always tends to take them out of their class and to make their distinguishing characteristics their “humanity.’”
In my mind that might be a preferable exit strategy. I’m certainly considering it. Charles Krauthammer clearly showed me how.