Dance Me to the End of Love

Today I bring you a few thoughts on dying written by Dudley Clendinen, a man who has Lou Gehrig's disease (something he affectionately calls "Lou") and not long to live. Here are a few excerpts from his article titled The Good Short Life:

No, thank you. I hate being a drag. I don’t think I’ll stick around for the back half of Lou.

I think it’s important to say that. We obsess in this country about how to eat and dress and drink, about finding a job and a mate. About having sex and children. About how to live. But we don’t talk about how to die. We act as if facing death weren’t one of life’s greatest, most absorbing thrills and challenges. Believe me, it is. This is not dull. But we have to be able to see doctors and machines, medical and insurance systems, family and friends and religions as informative — not governing — in order to be free.

And that’s the point. This is not about one particular disease or even about Death. It’s about Life, when you know there’s not much left. That is the weird blessing of Lou. There is no escape, and nothing much to do. It’s liberating.
Last month, an old friend brought me a recording of the greatest concert he’d ever heard, Leonard Cohen, live, in London, three years ago. It’s powerful, haunting music, by a poet, composer and singer whose life has been as tough and sinewy and loving as an old tree.

The song that transfixed me, words and music, was “Dance Me to the End of Love.” That’s the way I feel about this time. I’m dancing, spinning around, happy in the last rhythms of the life I love. When the music stops — when I can’t tie my bow tie, tell a funny story, walk my dog, talk with Whitney, kiss someone special, or tap out lines like this — I’ll know that Life is over. It’s time to be gone.


  1. This is a powerful post. I hope the end of life is peaceful, but we don't have that assurance, either.

    I know I'm on the downhill part of life, but I hope and pray that the younger people will live life to the fullest, and for the glory of God. We all let the problems of life get in the way of life.

    Stay with us a long time, Kansas Bob!

  2. Oh Bob, how powerful, and full of hope.

    Today, in Santa Barbara where Don preached for a friend who had knee surgery, we visited with a man in the dining room after the service who has stage 4 cancer, on his 15th round of chemo, and I swear he was the most delightful, happy, at peace with his was such a joy to visit with him. (btw he was also a retired minister)

  3. Thanks for sharing this...powerful.


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