In any case, I'm not afraid of it. Not in the least. You can't dread what you can't experience. The only death we experience is that of other people. That's as bad as it gets. And that's bad enough, surely. I remember when for the first time a dear friend of mine died. Must have been, what, 1947? ... He got sick, and I abandoned him in Vienna and he died. I had a a terror of illness. I was petrified by - by what? Not of getting sick and dying. Even then, in an elementary way, I understood what death was at its worst: something that happens to other people. And that is hard to bear; that is what I couldn't face back then, ... what I've never been good at.
But my point, you see, is that death is misunderstood. The loss of one's life is not the greatest loss. It is no loss at all. To others, perhaps, but not to oneself. From one's own perspective, experience simply halts. From one's own perspective there is no loss ... What I really fear is time. That's the devil: whipping us on when we'd rather loll, so the present sprints by, impossible to grasp, and all is suddenly past, a past that won't hold still, that slides into these inauthentic tales. My past - it doesn't feel real in the slightest. The person who inhabited it is not me. It's as if the present me is constantly dissolving. There's that line of Heraclitus: 'No man steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.' That's quite right. We enjoy this illusion of continuity, and we call it memory. Which explains, perhaps, why our worst fear isn't the end of life but the end of memories.
This passage made me realize that she doesn't miss me, or her life here. How can she miss a life she never possessed? As she fades - her face, the feel of her in my arms, the heavy weight that was her incomprehensible five pounds - was she heavier in death than in life? - I attempt to hold the memories of her tighter, but it is impossible to hold onto the few scraps she left behind.