I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear, he writes in a journal entry titled “Go Gently into That Good Night.” I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.
I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.
The tale of Roger Ebert and his battle against cancer is a harrowing, visceral story. At the same time, however, the narrative holds the rare traits of a touching, memorable, and fundamentally important story to be enjoyed and appreciated.
The beauty of Jones' long-form article lies within the brief snippets of prose from Ebert himself. Through a narrative depicting the sorrow and inevitability of death, Ebert's beautiful penchant for expression, thoughtfulness, and kindness pours forth for all to see.
Ebert embraced the world around him and sought out the best and most pleasureful experiences for himself. And, in doing so, he provided a wonderful legacy for all of us to bear witness. He showed that, regardless of difficulty, happiness is the true and most important goal in life.
For Mr. Ebert, it seems, the root of all of this was his writing:
When I am writing my problems become invisible and I am the same person I always was. All is well. I am as I should be.
Rest in peace.