Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rhoda is Dying, and So Are You

 Harper as Rhoda: Funny, sexy, still breathing.
The actress who played the wise-cracking, funny and beloved Rhoda Morgenstern on TV's "Mary Tyler Moore Show" years ago is back in the news, but not for a good thing. She's dying, and like any minute now. Diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, Valerie Harper was told eight months ago that she could be dead in as little as three months. So she's due. But aren't we all. Death has long been one of my favorite subjects, mostly because it happens to everyone, yet it remains shrouded in mystery. Name a famous person who embodies talent, success, and having it all: They'll die too. So why can't we all be grown-ups about it and face the truth, instead of pretending we have unlimited time to squander at salad bars in shopping malls across the country?

Harper is 73 now, and looks ten years younger. She's perky and breezy on the subject of her impending demise, and when you hear her speak of it--she has done a round of interviews since the news went public--it's hard to believe she really feels that way--full of enthusiasm for living well and dying well too, advising all of us who have yet to be diagnosed that we should embrace the moment, not miss our life, blah blah--you know it all already. Still, it's good to remember and think about fully: you will die and so will everyone else you know. Look around. See that person sitting over there? Dead someday. And that one over there? Also dead someday.

Many people fear death, which is dumb since it's ahead of us for our entire lives, poisoning the well so to speak. To them I say, take Valerie's advice and get over it.

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