“I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear,” Roger Ebert wrote in a 9.15.11 Salon piece. “I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.
“I don’t expect to die anytime soon. But it could happen this moment, while I am writing. I was talking the other day with Jim Toback, a friend of 35 years, and the conversation turned to our deaths, as it always does. ‘Ask someone how they feel about death,’ he said, ‘and they’ll tell you everyone’s gonna die. Ask them, In the next 30 seconds? No, no, no, that’s not gonna happen. How about this afternoon? No. What you’re really asking them to admit is, Oh my God, I don’t really exist. I might be gone at any given second.’
“Me too, but I hope not. I have plans. [But] I have no desire to live forever. The concept frightens me. I am 69, have had cancer, will die sooner than most of those reading this. That is in the nature of things. In my plans for life after death, I say, again with Walt Whitman:
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.