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A quick thought on death and dying

We had a most unfortunate accident at the household today. Our youngest cat, Zeus, had an accident. He managed to wrap his collar on a protruding metal pipe in the basement and was strangled to death. I was out on a run when my wife called me, very upset. It was only about a minute into running back home as fast as I possibly can (a crazy, for me, 6-minute mile) that I realized what she said. She found him in the basement.

I have absolutely no clue of what comes after life. It could very well be a void or it could be absolute bliss. My soul can turn out to be nothing, or it can really be a “life force” that manages to go on long after I’m gone. I really don’t know. There is not much evidence that gives me an answer to that. Sure, there are those who had “near death” experiences, but those accounts are few and far in between and best explained by other phenomena that happen in our brains as it starves for oxygen in our final moments.

What I do have is hope and faith that there has to be something more to “life” than just being on this planet for a blink of an eye (in universal terms). As I ran faster and faster to get home and be here for my wife, I could fear my heart going all-out. I had not run that fast in a long time. With the death of the cat in mind, I thought of my own fragility, of how my heart could just up and stop and leave me dead on the pavement. And I thought of how there has to be more.

I can’t just rely on this body that will eventually break down and become dust.

Then again, maybe I’ll never die if my thoughts and ideas live on through my family, my students, and all the people I’ve touched through my work. Because, as tragic as the kitten’s death was today, he will live on in our minds for the shenanigans he got into around the house, his long nights playing on the iPad, and his incessant purring as he slept with the rest of the pack. If you listen carefully in your sleep, you’ll hear him meow for a treat.

Sleep well, kitty cat.
Copyright 2009. Ren Returns. All rights reserved.

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René F. Najera, DrPH

I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
About Epidemiological: I am the sole contributor to Epidemiological, my personal blog to discuss all sorts of issues. It also has an About page you should check out.

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