I have been a soldier for more than half of my life campaigning across four continents with three different armies in two major wars and innumerable smaller ones. I have seen death visited upon men in all of its horrid forms. Whether a quick merciful death from a bullet to the head or a slow lingering death from disease. Death is not something to be mocked or ridiculed. We all will face it one day, the luckiest of us will be able to choose the circumstances of that death.
Some time in the distant past I picked up the belief that the Angel of Death was a beautiful woman who escorted you to judgement. I have no idea if such is true or not but it has been a comforting belief to me over the years. It is a comforting belief that the last thing I see before I am taken to judgement will be a beautiful woman. Twice now I have been with men who made me believe in such as they passed beyond. One was a fellow Legionnaire who had been horribly wounded in the Crimea. The other was a young Confederate soldier who took hours to go and spoke of seeing a beautiful woman as he went. Both were better men than I who were too young to die. I would like to think their view of a beautiful woman as the Angel of Death was a comfort to them. They deserved that at the very least.
I have killed often; some have accused me of murder which may well be true. I admit there is death in my past were the wrong people to discover the details I might face some difficult questions. I do not regret those deaths, those that I regret were of brave fighting men who had the courage to stand in the line of battle.
Down the road from my home is a farm where a family is losing the dowager of the household is passing. She has had a fairly soft life free of pain and worry. In the last year her health has failed and she has begun to fade, her death will be a mercy upon both the family and her. She lives every day in pain but refuses to pass, she stubbornly holds onto life. I can respect that, life is something worth holding on to. That said when my time comes I hope to go quickly with dignity. Perhaps some cold winter night I see the end is near I shall simply walk into the woods and let the cold take me. No, I think that I might prefer to be allowed a death in battle where I have the opportunity to sell myself dearly. Failing that I believe drowning myself in a bottle of Cognac would be an acceptable end.