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a matter of life or death

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We toss that phrase around all the time, don't we? I don't mean here necessarily, but, you know, everywhere.

"Is it a matter of life or death?" "I need to know! It's a matter of life or death!" "Well, it's not a matter of life or death, but..."

It's an easy phrase because we all understand its extremities: life, the one half of the equation, is the state of being alive, the only state we truly can ever comprehend, the one in which we spend our time thinking and considering and philosophizing and watching and listening and doing and being a part of everything around us; death, the second, unknown half of this seemingly balanced thought, is, by contrast, a virtual black hole: we know it not. We have religious or emotional or creative or otherwise interpretive notions of what it might be, but we do not--we cannot--know it. Not until we have experienced it, and then it is too late to discuss the matter.

A matter of life or death.

In my home, at this time, along with the clutter from all of the accumulated crap that builds up over time, along with the random devastation caused by having too many cats in too small a space, along with what passes for my world, there is, rapidly reaching a peak, a matter of life or death.

My son and his wife live here with us right now. He is 28 years old. His wife is 29. She will probably not see 30.

For three years she has been fighting cancer. She is losing. The cancer is simply too aggressive. Last week, they made the decision to stop fighting and begin hospice care, and now begins the end. No one knows how long this part will take. It's a matter of life or death. And when it is over, one--a pre-ordained choice--will have emerged victorious. The game is fixed, like professional wrestling. It is not fair. From the start, she had no real chance other than to prolong her life. That she did, but no more.

We think about matters here that are often fun, sometimes silly, sometimes humorous. And of course we also think about and write about important issues we each may be facing in our complex lives. Sometimes they feel as if they are matters of life or death.

Sometimes, perhaps, they are.


  1. Marka's Avatar
    No, indeed...we cannot know...until then... if then...

    Short of a miraculous recovery... I hope your daughter-in-law the best of all of this...

    My intent is good, my words are rather useless here... you have my thoughts...

  2. acorn's Avatar
    I am sorry for one and all, I can tell you from similar experience it will be a hard battle. You will have to be strong for her, to help her to the end with dignity. I wish you all - all the best
  3. Scaramouche's Avatar
    I'm so sorry to hear about your situation. That's twice in one week I've read blogs that made me really sad. It is a matter of life and death. To get a little religious on you for a minute, the Bible has a verse "What man can live and not see death?" That also is a life or death quote. You will eventually pass away from this life and leave your pain behind or you can look at it as you will see loved ones pass away, sometimes much too soon.

    A friend of mine, a minister, works at a hospice center. He consoles the living and those about to leave this world behind. He says it never gets any easier consoling those in need. I don't have the gift of words like you do but then again, I know there's nothing I can say to ease your pain or your daughter-in-law's but rest assured, she will be in a better place soon free of her pain once and for all. Religious or not, my prayers are with you all.
  4. kerry's Avatar
    Thank you all for your words. My mother is a hospice nurse as is my sister , and both of them have had long careers in easing people to their deaths. My mother had a hospice home for AIDS patients back in the 90's. I swear she was a saint. Still is. I've never much thought of myself as a saint, and this is truly challenging for me. All I know is what I can do. I can be there for my son and I can be there for his wife, and that is the best that I can do. I suppose it is the best that anyone can do.
  5. daLira's Avatar
    Honestly, I never liked that sentence, I hate it, it's unpleasant, disrespectful. My favorite response, if it is meant in a figurative way, is eat or die, which sounds even better in german. On a second thought, in french as example this thing is different. Marche ou crève, move or die, used by the french legion. But also playful expressed to catch your death (of cold)..., if it's figuratively. Also used for describing a kind of rule if you're married ;).
    Still, quite funny isn't it? How language may change one word and still means the same, but in a different context it changes what we say, or not.

    However on the other hand... death is no matter of living. It will end, that's it. And it's sad for that person, no one should make it any harder as it is and no one should feel sorry for himself, you shouldn't do it. It makes things only worse.

    You will do the right thing. You can't do more as giving it your best and that is what matters.
    Updated 13-Nov-2013 at 16:12 by daLira (literal=!figuratively, thanks near ;))
  6. Adventurer's Avatar
    I'm so sorry to hear this news. It does give a lot of perspective to everything we do, doesn't it? When a coworker of mine died of cancer last year, at around the same age as your daughter in law, it made me see this too. I'm sorry for what's happened, but my prayers are for peace for all of you, and for all of us to be more appreciative of the beautiful life we live every day. - the Adult Baby / Diaper Lover / Incontinence Support Community. is designed to be viewed in Firefox, with a resolution of at least 1280 x 1024.