What I consider a romantic death

Last weekend I sat with some friends and we talked about death – as you do. We talked about in which ways we didn’t want to succumb to death. Burning and drowning were the top „contenders“. But this discussion left me thinking about how I would like to die.
Not entertaining the obvious choices, like dying sound asleep or during intercourse, I thought about what I considered romantic.

Certainly not this:
O happy dagger! / This is thy sheath; / there rest, and let me die.

What I consider possibly the culmination of romantic death comes in the form of the fictional spacefarer by the name of Major Tom (David Bowie – Space Oddity, Peter Schilling – Major Tom, Bill Shatner’s interpretations could be considered more romantic renditions).

 Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles, I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows
Ground control to major Tom, your circuits dead, there’s something wrong
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you…
Here am I sitting in my tin can far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do
(David Bowie)


 „Go to rockets full“
No responding
„Hello Major Tom are you receiving?
Turn the thrusters on we are standing by“
No reply

Across the strathosphere
A final message:“Give my wife my love“
Then nothing more

Far beneath the ship
The world is mourning
They don’t realize He’s alive
No one understands but Major Tom sees
„Now the lights commands
This is my home
I’m coming home
(Peter Schilling)

Something like this never happened. There was never any astronaut who found his death stranded in the icy depths of space. But still, there is a less fictional part to this story. Richard Nixon addressed the nation and the world after the successful landing of the Apollo 11 on the moon. This speech was pre-written, alongside another speech depicting a different outcome of this mission:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.
(A speech Richard Nixon never gave)

When mission control was convinced that there would be no way to recover the first men on the moon, they were to record their last words before cutting communication.

It is not the heroism, I guess. But if I know I would not see this world ever again, I know how I would spend my last minutes, hours or days. Thinking about what I’d left behind and who I’d never see again.

Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows

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