1. " Kafka wrote that the meaning of life is that it ends. He meant that our lives are shaped and shaded by the existential terror of knowing that all is finite. This anxiety informs poetry, literature, the monuments we build, the wars we wage, the ways we love and hate and procreate — all of it. Kafka was talking, of course, about people. Among animals, only humans are said to be self-aware enough to comprehend the passage of time and the grim truth of mortality. How then, to explain old Harry at the edge of that park, gray and lame, just days from the end, experiencing what can only be called wistfulness and nostalgia? I have lived with eight dogs, watched six of them grow old and infirm with grace and dignity, and die with what seemed to be acceptance. I have seen old dogs grieve at the loss of their friends. I have come to believe that as they age, dogs comprehend the passage of time, and, if not the inevitability of death, certainly the relentlessness of the onset of their frailties. They understand that what’s gone is gone.

    What dogs do not have is an abstract sense of fear, or a feeling of injustice or entitlement. They do not see themselves, as we do, as tragic heroes, battling ceaselessly against the merciless onslaught of time. Unlike us, old dogs lack the audacity to mythologize their lives. You’ve got to love them for that.

    In our dogs, we see ourselves. Dogs exhibit almost all of our emotions; if you think a dog cannot register envy or pity or pride or melancholia, you have never lived with one for any length of time. What dogs lack is our ability to dissimulate. They wear their emotions nakedly, and so, in watching them, we see ourselves as we would be if we were stripped of posture and pretense. Their innocence is enormously appealing. When we watch a dog progress from puppyhood to old age, we are watching our own lives in microcosm. Our dogs become old, frail, crotchety and vulnerable, just as Grandma did, just as we surely will, come the day. When we grieve for them, we grieve for ourselves.

    The meaning of life is that it ends.”

    -Gene Weingarten, Old Dogs are the Best Dogs:

     

  2. "So, yes, death. When you’re young, you think about it… Well, you don’t really think about it, you know - you have the intelligence of raspberry jam, you’re not thinking about anything. But it’s there, as a motive force, making you do things. Go and get a job. Go and find a flat. Find somebody else. Put them in the flat. Make them stay. Get a toaster. Go to work. Get on the bus. Look at your boss. Say, "fuck". Sit down. Pick up the thing. Go blank. Scream internally. Go home. Listen to the radio. Look at the other person. Think, "WHY? Why did this happen?". Go to bed. Lie awake! At night! Get up. Feel groggy. Put the things on - your clothes - whatever they’re called. Go out the door, into work - same thing! Same people, again, it’s real, it is happening, to you. Go home again! Sit, Radio, Dinner - mmm, GARDENING, GARDENING, GARDENING, death."
    — Dylan Moran
     

  3. "The Japanese have an expression that seems to capture the sense of pathos that is at the heart of our all too human dilemma: mono no aware, “the slender sadness”. Simply by living we take life. Leather shoes and belts, breathing in and out, a cup of water, a flushing toilet, a stroll in the forest, raising mustard greens, flying here and there, the daily newspaper: in each, a thousand things are dying and being born."
    — Thich Nhat Hanh
     
  4.  After the nearly simultaneous deaths of his mother and wife, Theodore Roosevelt left his daughter in the care of his sister, Anna “Bamie” in New York City. In his diary, he wrote a large ‘X’ on the page and then, “The light has gone out of my life.”

     
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  6. The sudden passing of a friend in a tragic, freak motorcycle accident on Monday has shaken me hard. He was my brother’s best friend, and only nineteen years old. Some days it seems to me like death covets those with the warmest hearts and largest smiles. To say it isn’t fair is both a cliche and an understatement. In the face of it, we realize how fragile and helpless we really are. There isn’t anything to make it better, there isn’t anything that will bring him back. We gather in large rooms, speak in hushed voices, and try to remember, and try to forget. His funeral is tomorrow, the same day as my father funerals ten years ago. My brother didn’t deserve this. 

    Tomorrow is going to be hard.

     

  7. "Time rushes by and yet time is frozen. Funny how we get so exact about time at the end of life and at its beginning. She died at 6:08 or 3:46, we say, or the baby was born at 4:02. But in between we slosh through huge swatches of time—weeks, months, years, decades even"
    — Helen Prejean
     

  8. "Time held me green and dying
    Though I sang in my chains like the sea."
    — Dylan Thomas