When the words gets out that you’re toast and it’s just a matter of time, some people have a tendency to step back a few paces, or turn away and cut off contact. I’d like to think that I’m not one of them, but I’ve seen these responses time and again. One thing’s for sure: Christopher Hitchens is evading nothing in terms of analysis. He’s dealing with it like a man.

When my sister was on her way out with cancer, days or hours from liftoff, my brother (who’s now dead himself) told me he hadn’t visited her in the hospital because “I don’t want to sit in a room and watch her die.” You effing asshole, I thought to myself. It’s not about you, it’s about her.

Death is like walking across a rickety wooden bridge across a huge and deep chasm. It’s not the other side of the chasm that scares you, but grabbing hold of the railing and stepping out and making your way across. People about to do this want people with them, I think. It comforts them that they have people supporting them and telling them in a roundabout way that it’s okay to cross, and that it’s safe and pleasant on the other side.