Someone gave me an Amazon gift certificate last month, which I used to buy ecologist and science journalist Curt Stager‘s 2014 book Your Atomic Self: The Invisible Elements That Connect You to Everything Else in the Universe. I’m a few chapters into it, and it’s lovely. Stager has a way of wrapping dry biophysics in a kind of mellifluous poetry.
He also pulls that off while speaking off the cuff, as he did in a conversation with a writer from the World Science Festival. Here he’s talking about what happens when we die.
Say you’re cremated. You’ll start to heat up, and all your atoms will start jiggling, and the first thing to go off is going to be be your body water, and that’s about two-thirds of you. That’ll go into the air, and within a few days it’ll turn into clouds and raindrops and snow, and it’ll drop to the earth or into the oceans and become part of water bodies or be soaked up by plants. People will eventually drink you and make you part of their bodies.
By now, you’re familiar with Makayla Sault (below), an 11-year-old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The disease is treatable with two years of tough chemotherapy and has a nearly 90% survival rate… but Makayla wanted to stop with the chemo and her Ojibwe/First Nations parents were more than happy to oblige, seeking out useless faith-based treatments instead.
Makayla was allowed to quit receiving chemo, but we learned a couple of months ago that her condition had worsened.
At the time, the Ontario Court of Justice ruled that Makayla’s family had every right to decide her treatment and outsiders couldn’t override their wishes.
This was effectively a death sentence for Makayla. She had a strong chance of survival with chemotherapy, but with that option off the table, there was little hope of a recovery.
And now the inevitable has happened: Makayla has died.
In yet another example of Christian Love, New Hope Ministries in Lakewood, Colorado put a stop to Vanessa Collier‘s funeral just minutes after it was scheduled to begin because they noticed that a video that was supposed to play during the service included an image of Collier kissing her wife: