Some people’s deaths are as known as their lives.
The years they spend here changing the world, for the better or, the worse, are overshadowed by their last moments living, their last breaths breathing, their last days walking.
Their ending to their lives reverberate in our fragile minds like that of a great movie scene; we quote repeatedly.
Long after hearing of it, we are saying it casually to each other.
“Why so serious?”
At the park as we play a game.
“Why so serious?”
At the supermarket by the cashier.
“Why so serious?”
We know of it, even though it is sad.
We are talking about someone dying, after all.
But that person’s death brings nice closure to their time here.
Poetic justice; if there is any.
The firefighter who dies in the fire.
He gave his life for the betterment of the person he was trying to save.
Rather than getting hit by a car as he crossed the street.
A soldier who dies in the battle.
He gave his life for his country.
Rather than dying of alcohol poisoning.
The police officer who got shot in a takedown.
He gave his life trying to protect his community.
Rather than dying of old age.
It is wrong, but it feels like a sort of justice is done with their premature departures.
As if that person didn’t waste their life here.
By going out in a way that fits our minds, we then view the individual differently than we would have otherwise.
We think more of the firefighter who died in the flames than the one who died by accident.
We think more of the soldier who died on the battlefield than the one who died in the bar.
We think more of the cop who died on duty than the one who died in a senior home.
Though we shouldn’t view death this way, as an arbitrator of their life, we do.
Some of us die better than others.
Some know how to leave the stage of this world to receive a standing ovation as they exit.
Some die in a way that we remember and talk about long after it happens.
As we sit around a table discussing our daily routines, significant problems, and other random stuff that we think about during the day, their unusual death is brought up.
We remember it.
All anyone at the table has to do is say a few lines of the individual, and we all know who they are talking about.
“You know the guy who died like…”
History is filled with men, bad and good, who have been helped by their own death.
Jesus being crucified.
Caesar being stabbed to death by his friends.
Lincoln getting shot by a conspirator.
Hitler shooting himself in the bunker.
Kennedy being shot in the car.
Cobain shooting himself after writing a letter.
Each helped themselves with their death.
When we talk of each, we also speak of their death.
It fascinates us. It intrigues us. It captivates us as much as their life.
We ask questions of the person that we would not have asked of them without their unique exit from this world.
Was Jesus wrongly convicted?
Who was responsible for his death?
Did he really die for our sins?
Should Caesar have been killed?
Was he turning Rome into an empire?
Is it ever okay to kill a leader?
Should Lincoln have been killed?
Would he have handled Reconstruction differently than Johnson?
How would America have been different if Lincoln didn’t die?
Should Hitler have committed suicide?
How would he have handled being put on trial for his crimes?
How would the post-war world be different if he didn’t die?
Should Kennedy have been assassinated?
Who did it? Why?
How would he have handled the rest of his presidency?
Did Cobain kill himself?
Was it his wife, or was he just that depressed?
What music would he have made if he was still alive?
When we talk of Caesar’s conquests, Lincoln’s victories, or Kennedy’s speeches, the story doesn’t end there.
The book is not finished.
The narrator is not done talking.
No, there is one more chapter left for us to read.
One more part to get through.
One more thing to mention.
How it ended.
How it all ended.
How everything up until that point came all crashing down.
Then that person is no longer even a person, but more of a tragic character.
Someone who we know is going to fail.
Someone who will not live to see anything that we have seen them built.
Their tale is how their successes fall in the end, for their life is cut short.
Then there are some people who don’t die that way at all.
Edgar Allan Poe is someone who didn’t die like that.
It feels like Edgar Allan Poe should have committed suicide.
Oh wait, can I say that? Am I going to be canceled now for bringing that up?
You know what I mean when I say that, though.
The guy was weird. He wrote strange things, yet he didn’t take his own life or even try to.
The king of horror probably would have been better off if he did something awful to himself.
It would feel natural to us.
We would think nothing of such a tragedy coming from a tragic person.
Is this bad to mention?
Yes. I am not saying that it is good that we would feel okay with this.
But as I said, death becomes a part of a person’s life if the person dies in the right way.
Jesus died for humanity.
Caesar died for Rome.
Lincoln died for a new America.
Hitler got what he deserved.
Kennedy died with the death of hopeful America.
Cobain died for his music.
I mean, I’m not saying that someone like Edgar Allan Poe have should hurt himself, or even contemplate such an awful act (it is terrible obviously) but…
If he did, he would help people talk of him.
After we talk of his books, we’d bring up his death, like we do the others.
The thing about Poe’s death is that it is a mystery. We don’t know why he died exactly.
So no one at the table automatically associates Poe with a certain death, like we do the others.
All I am saying is that if you were to ask someone, “How did Edgar Allan Poe die?”
And the answer was suicide; I don’t think many would be too surprised by it.
Edgar Allan Poe died from crucifixion.
No, that isn’t right.
Edgar Allan Poe died from stab wounds.
No. No, that’s wrong.
Edgar Allan Poe died from a gunshot.
No, that’s not right either. Close though.
Edgar Allan Poe died from suicide.
Now that seems like it fits.
He died for his melancholy writings.
For his raven, for Annabel Lee, for his Tell-Tale heart, and his detective story.
He died for the tragedy of his works.
It would feel right to us in all the wrong ways.
The guy who wrote about death committed suicide.
It is almost poetic when you put it like that.
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About The Blogger
Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on pensandwords.com. He has never met anyone who was fascinated with Poe's death. He knows plenty who have talked about the deaths of basically everyone else mentioned in the piece. He believes that Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and Emily Dickinson all got together to kill Poe. He has no evidence but feels it makes as much sense as anything else he has read about it.
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