With open arms

“I had a conversation with God: ‘Take me totally or don’t take me. No salami tactics.’ He’s been very good about it.” – Ed Koch

Excerpt from The New York Times’s article Koch Makes His Peace and Dares to Look Ahead, about former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and his readiness to accept and preparations for death:

He’s already installed and inscribed his tombstone. He’s recruited a rabbi to preside over his funeral. He’s been saying some goodbyes. He insists he no longer carries any grudges; well, maybe just a few. He’s issued an apology or two and even confesses to a few regrets as mayor.

Ed Koch, at 84, isn’t dead yet.

But the former mayor — still looming though stooped from stenosis, a spinal degeneration — is philosophically confronting his own mortality. His is a life that has played out mostly in the public eye, and now, perhaps appropriately, so are many of his preparations for the beyond.

“We all die,” he said over lunch in Midtown the other day, his words unequivocal but his voice raspy. “Whenever he or she wants me, I go.”

It takes a life full of pain, sadness and hardships, but alive with happiness and fulfillment at what one has achieved and experienced, for one to be able to wake up one day and say, “I’m ready to go.”

*          *          *

“Imagine you’re in a room with no doors or windows, and where absolutely everything is white. Just white. How would that make you feel?”

“Creeped out.”


“Because of the silence and the stillness.”

I only found out later that the white room represented death.

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