chapter  6
22 Pages

Waiting for Death: Ferdinand Hodler’s Paintings of Valentine Godé-Darel

If waiting for death is performed in this inward realm of pure duration – time stripped of its illusory objectifications – then the waiting of the person who attends to the dying also eludes description. To wait with the dying is not a matter of length or efficacy but of proximity and sympathy. If bedpans have to be emptied, sheets changed, and drugs administered, such activities derive their quality entirely from the proximity and the sympathy of the person who performs them. What matters is that one give one’s presence to the sufferer not as an activity but as the substance of waiting. “It is,” Weil insists, “only watching, waiting, attention.”3