ICYMI, and some people did miss it, Rachel’s got a compound fracture in her leg. Despite that, she could’ve maybe pushed through the pain enough to push herself out and into Sundar’s arms, if Frigg were safe elsewhere… and of course, if Frigg were up and about, she’d carry Rachel. But as it is, there is simply no way both Rachel and Frigg can survive.

I don’t know if anything else I can say will be worth hearing after that beautiful alt text from Flo, but I’ll try.

In a world where ghosts are provably real and resurrection is normally a possibility, you have to move some furniture around in order to get a death scene with the cold, firm finality that is death in our world. This is why it was key for Rachel, early on, to hear Gravedust’s assessment of the Corruptor Beast’s effects. Thanks to that conversation, she knows there is nothing waiting for her on the other side, no ghostly existence, no realm beyond. In short, she can hope for no supernatural reward for her life on Arkerra, as she might if she were dying to save Frigg from, I dunno, space pirates. And it makes no difference to her actions at all, and she spends her last few seconds of existence at peace. She sorta lies to quiet Sundar’s concerns and make sure he gets Frigg away with due haste, but in a certain sense, it’s not a lie. In a sense, she is fine.

This puts me in mind of a story from Hassidic literature presented by Martin Buber that gets passed around the internet now and then. In it, a religious student asks their mentor why God created atheists. The mentor responds:

“God created atheists to teach us the most important lesson of them all — the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs an act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching. He does not believe that God commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his acts are based on an inner sense of morality. And look at the kindness he can bestow upon others simply because he feels it to be right.

“This means that when someone reaches out to you for help, you should never say ‘I pray that God will help you.’ Instead for the moment, you should become an atheist, imagine that there is no God who can help, and say, ‘I will help you.’”