Jay Leno’s Last “Tonight” show on May 29, 2009; Conan takes over June 1

In a press conference to announce the details of Jay Leno’s departure from “The Tonight Show”, the comedian turned up in disguise to ask questions about his own future. Leno put on a bald cap, fake goatee and glasses and joined the real reporters quizzing NBC executives about the turnover from him, after having hosted the show for the past 16 years, to Conan O’Brien.

It was revealed that the date set for Leno’s last “Tonight” appearance would be Friday, May 29, 2009, while Conan takes over the following Monday, June 1.

To his credit, Jay has put on record early on that the transition will be smooth and hassle-free. His beating out David Letterman as host of NBC’s “Tonight” show in 1992 was fraught with drama and ill feelings, and he has been quoted as saying that “Quite frankly, I don’t want to see anybody go through that again”. Even though, as reported by Slate, the lame duck has quacked that he doesn’t want to give up his gig. Continue reading

Death and Meaning

If we are to live fully, we must became aware of our death. Ideally, we should pursue not just an awareness, but what M. Scott Peck calls “ a romance with death”.

Not to romanticize it in a morbid, nihilistic way, but to honestly grapple with it and, in the end, make it our friend. It is one of the more profound ironies of our existence that life can only be meaningful in the context of our imminent dying.

Maybe it won’t come knocking right this very moment, but it will come. It is just outside the door. We might as well make death’s acquaintance before we let it in. Continue reading

Thoughts on the Death of My Son Eight Years After

Eight years ago on this day, the 27th of May, my son died. Thus, began for us who loved him, and love him still, a journey of mourning and grief from which I sometimes feel there is no way back. In a sense, this is true. Having walked through the valley of death, by way of lamentations for those we lost, we can never return. At least not as we once were.

For one thing, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis in his classic “A Grief Observed”, some aspects of my fatherhood must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will I have my son on my knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see my grandchild.

Or get a haircut together. And share some burger and fries after. Which we used to do on a regular basis, just the two of us.

Still, I cling to memories and mementos of our time together, specially books, which he loved. It gave me indescribable pleasure to read to him, most often in bed just before sleeping. A particular favorite, “The Sailor Dog”, about a dog that always wanted to go to sea and realizes his dream, has pride of place in my bookshelf. Continue reading

On Death, Resurrection and the Oblation of Christ on the Cross

Death and resurrection are basic themes of the Catholic Lenten observance. The oblation of Christ on the Cross is the central image.

How then do we perceive death ? Hegel says that death can be interpreted as a mere natural fact, pertaining to man as organic matter, or death can be seen as the telos of life, the distinguishing feature of all human existence. In Hegel’s words:

If death appears as an essential as well a biological fact, ontological as well as empirical, life is transcended even though the transcendence may not assume any religious form. Man’s empirical existence, his material and contingent life, is then defined in terms of and redeemed by something other than itself: he is said to live in two fundamentally different and even conflicting dimensions, and his “true” existence involves a series of sacrifices in his empirical existence which culminate in the supreme sacrifice – death.

In other words, we choose, as followers of Christ, to give meaning to death. Death becomes a transcendent and transformative experience, as we are redeemed by the Redeemer. In a broad sense, we need to “die” to ourselves (our worldly desires, ambitions, values etc.) , before we can be reborn in Christ. Continue reading

All Souls’ Day Thoughts on the Death of my Son

Death takes us by surprise
And stays our hurrying feet;
The great design unfinished lies,
Our lives are incomplete.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

4:00 a.m. on All Souls’ Day, November 2, a day for remembering and honoring the loved ones we lost, as prescribed by the Catholic church. There are other days and reasons for doing this, as any day can be one of remembrance, but today has been officially designated for prayers for those referred to as our “faithful departed” and for offering Masses.

In a sane and logical world, my son should be the one offering prayers for me. Instead its me who shall pray for him. No, that’s not right either. He doesn’t need our prayers as he died before reaching what is considered “the age of accountability” and therefore, by Catholic doctrine, died in a state of grace and went straight to heaven. He was just six years old, a few weeks short of his 7th birthday, and would have been a teenager by now. I will go to early Mass and then visit his grave with his mother and sisters. Prayers will be said, but more for our sake, those he left behind.

We miss him so much, and the years have not dulled the pain of loss. The grief becomes sharper on days like this. He was the center of our lives. On my side of the family, out of thirteen grandchildren (and more on the way), he was the only boy. And so I feel, like many a grieving parent, stripped of my past and robbed of my future. Continue reading