When are we finished?

Philip Simmons makes the “unsettling suggestion” that it may be a “good thing” that life turns “out to be not quite what we had in mind.”   He elaborates: “Our houses, like our lives, will never be finished, never be settled.  The only thing that will settle the affairs of this life is death itself.”  I agree that life is always changing, but I’m not sure that death is a finish, a settling of all affairs.  Why do family and caregivers have to reassure the dying loved one that it is ok to let go, that she doesn’t have to worry about what will happen after she dies?  Both parties know that things will remain unfinished as far as the dying person is concerned.  Once we are dead, even if we have left a will and detailed instructions on what we want done, all that we were working on remains open as to what might have happened if we ourselves had been able to keep working on finishing them. In life we are always working on finishing the unfinished, on closing the holes in our roof, the gaps in our walls.  Death does not close these holes.  What the Talmud and Amichai are telling us, is that in life we started to cover and to wall off what was open before we arrived and in dying we return to opening.  There is still much more to ponder about open-close-open.

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