Far from a mindless sensation of hunger, though, eating at the end of life seems to come as a celebration of physicality. It wasn't gluttony that prompted my tiny 91-year-old aunt, dying of liver cancer, to reply to an offer of food with "I could eat."
Sitting with my old cat who was dying, I was surprised every time by her enthusiasm for a bowl of food. She needed water, but she would reject that until a spoonful of canned nibbles would draw her out. Then she would eat with all the vigor of her long-ago kitten self.
|One more bowlful of life for me.|
Our consciousness of enjoyment, and our pursuit of it even when things we need to survive hold no temptation, point to something else.
If we were attempting to survive past our sell-by date, we would long for water, yearn for adrenaline, beg for anything that would keep us alive another day.
But instead, a soul seems to say goodbye to embodiment the same way it said hello: by eating.