DEATH was taboo at the dining table. As kids, no sooner would we mention it while eating than our elders would glare and hush us up.
Only after the meal was over could we bring up the subject. Even then, talking about death and dying was as hush-hush a topic as money, sex and violence in polite conversation.
We used to wonder what made it distasteful to our elders. Was it fear? Was it disgust?
Later we realized they were linking death to the divine. It was sacred. One wasn't supposed to smile or laugh while talking about it. One couldn't just mention it casually, like the immutable name of God.
Through the years we've grown somewhat jaded toward it. Yet when someone we love is dying, we try to move heaven with our prayers that his or her stay on earth be extended-though we're answered by an indifferent blue. When it involves pain and suffering, however, we pray that the beloved be given up the sooner to the same infinite blue.
Whatever one's religion, one always senses a finality about death. But even an atheist, whether scientist or existentialist, has to acknowledge there must be something beyond our physical existence.
The body dies and something in us moves on. We can't just vanish in thin air. Because there is no total destruction in nature-only transformation.
How we take death is subjective, personal, often contradictory, although, like most in nature, it is indifferent to our desires, needs and wishes. Death comes to both the rich and the poor, the just and the unjust. Only God is immortal.