Words that have rocked a nation. Rocked many nations. Terrible last words.
Our first breath (inspiration) and our last breath (expiration) are involuntary, the one to fill the lungs with air, the other finally to let go, often after a pause of some minutes.
I was not able to be with my mother when she died, and her death was sudden and catastrophic. Death’s estrangement is unremitting, but I think we are entitled to hope that there is some final reconciliation that takes place. However reconciliation is an encounter, death an undiscovered country.
Rilke has expressed my hopes in an extraordinary late poem which I have translated from the french. (Tolstoy, in prophetic mode, covered similar ground in his short story, The Death of Ivan Ilyich).
Our next to last word will be one of desolation but facing mother-conscience the last one of all will be beautiful. Because we'll need to summon the whole force of a desire that any taste of bitterness will not know how to hold back.