“Death may be beautiful; dying is not.”
– Terisaki’s friend, speaking to Gwen
This quote-as-remembered from the 1961 movie, Bridge to the Sun, comes with no warranty, express or implied, with respect to its accuracy. It’s spoken by a friend of the main male character (Terisaki, a Japanese diplomat) to dissuade that character’s wife (Gwen, a blonde American) from staying with him through his final illness.
The first thought – Death may be beautiful – is presented as a cultural difference, but the significance of the second thought – Dying is not – is presented as a difference between the genders, albeit mediated by culture. And so one male member of a culture helps a female outsider let her husband die as he would wish.
“Let him know that you will remember him as he was,” is the sub-text, I guess, as translated for the less poetic among us.
Whether my memory is hot or not, all I’d say now – 55 years later – is that opinions on these matters vary: by culture, era, gender, and person. Heck, my own opinions vary month to month; sometimes even day to day.
So rather than trying to figure it all out, I’m left with just trying to appreciate the beauty that I can. And yes, sometimes in death. And in dying.