Death In The Open (or as Harry Potter had put it: “I open at the close”)

Once upon a time, a doctor named Lewis Thomas wrote these words:

“Everything in the world dies. In the middle of a meadow, at the edge of a hillside, everything you can catch sight of is in the process of dying. And most things will be dead long before you are.”

I read those 3 sentences when I was 12, in a Biology book. It made such a great impact to me that I can recite them from memory more than 20 years later.

Yesterday, I celebrated my mother’s 7th death anniversary.

My mother and I have the same birthday; in my morbid moments, I would wonder if we will also have the same death-day.

That concern made me particularly nervous when the bus I was riding was going at top speed along EDSA. Thank God an MMDA officer halted it before it can send me and the other passengers to our untimely (?) demise, or disability.

The thing about humans is that we create rituals to celebrate our deaths. Animals do their dying more quietly. Lewis Thomas mentioned elephants who leave one of their dying in a special place to die alone. Other creatures, the one-celled amoeba, for example, don’t seem to die at all. They break off into two cells, then 4  then 8 (in  a process called binary fission), that one is wont to ask, so what happened to the “mother” amoeba? Is there a “mother amoeba” at all? What does it mean “to die” for one-celled organisms?

I blame the eukaryotes, and the sexual revolution that they have initiated, for our shenanigans about dying.

True, sexual reproduction has its benefit — orgasms, for one, but that’s another story 🙂

Sexual reproduction, biologists surmised, is responsible for the increased amount of variation among organisms. In lay-speak, we are different (even if we are the same) because our ancestors shagged each other. If they reproduced by binary fission, then you and me would look very much alike. In the end, this variation within a species makes our DNA (and by extension, us)  “stronger” and more fit to conquer the vagaries and cruelties of our environment — please read Mr. Richard Dawkins’s ‘The Selfish Gene’ or ‘The Extended Phenotype’ for further explanation as I am too lazy to write a dissertation about that.

In any case, Mr. Dawkins, for all your erudition and insight, I have yet to find comfort in the fact that my mother is now dead and I am alive.

Sometimes I wonder: does having progeny increases one’s predisposition to dying?

I can cite several examples:

1. Harry Potter lived because Lily Potter died

2.Bella Swann-Cullen died as a human (and was reborn a vampire) because of her spawn, Renesmee (without whom Jacob Black, would not have had a soulmate, so there …)

3. If Cory Aquino did not die of cancer in 2009, Noynoy would not be president … ooops … that’s another story …

Yesterday, I was half-expecting my mother’s ghost to appear as I entered the house she bought with her hard-earned money that she had amassed by selling pork.

No, there was no ghost.

The irony: I am afraid of ghosts. If Casper appeared, i would probably call the Ghostbusters. Image from

The irony: I am afraid of ghosts. If Casper appeared, I would probably call the Ghostbusters. Image from



  1. This is a very thought provoking piece. I really like how you use Harry Potter (and other common sources of fiction) to relate your ideas in a tangible way.



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