“I just want to be dead.”

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About a decade ago, I had lunch with my parents, my aunt Ruth and Ruth’s mother, who was—I believe—99.

I didn’t see much of Ruth’s mother. Ruth is actually my great aunt, and with time the family has sort of drifted apart. No hard feelings, just life being life.

Anyhow, I sat across from Ruth’s mom, and she was pretty quiet. I knew her health wasn’t amazing, and her hearing had faded. But she’d also always been described as something of a marvel. Resilient. Strong. Eternal. Trying to make conversation and remain upbeat, I looked at her and said, loudly, “How’s it going? You look terrific!”

She stared back for a moment. “I just want,” she said, “to be dead.”

Um …

I’ve never forgotten that chat. In fact, I find it oddly affirming. Why? Because as I sit here, age 42, I’m filled with a love for life. I wake up wondering what’s going to happen today. Where are we going? What are we going to do? Who will we meet?

At some point, however, it surely starts to grow stale. Your body no longer feels like your body. Loved ones are dying all around. The sunset that once dazzled no longer impresses.

You just want to be dead.

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