A dream

Sep. 14th, 2010 10:48 pm
tagryn: Owl icon (Default)
I dreamed Monday night that I saw my own gravesite and my tombstone. I was sitting in front of it, on the lawn, but I couldn't read it until someone I didn't know, a stranger, just came up randomly and started reading what was on it. It was strange (as dreams are), because the name was "Thomas Tham (Gryn)", which made no sense. Then the inscription started "Ad astra" in Latin, basically 'To the stars, ye who come after', then almost a direct word-for-word use of the final message from the long-dead Capellan race at the end of James Gunn's "The Listeners":
civilized beings/
intelligent creatures/
to whom it may concern
Greetings from the people of Capella/
the first satellite of God
Who are dead/
We lived
We worked
We built
And we are gone. Accept this, our legacy/
And our good wishes/

(I think I had figured out a way to give attribution as well, since stealing the quote without it would have been rude, but I can't recall how I had done that)
(nor how the heck all that would fit on a headstone, but again, its a dream. Rationality doesn't...quite...work there).

As the person read it, I started crying inconsolably, for I realized that yes, I was dead, and there was nothing I could do about it. Then I started fading away into the great darkness of the beyond, as if by having someone I didn't know read what I had left, it somehow confirmed that I was gone.

I remembered what Stacy Horn wrote in the preface to her book "The Restless Sleep" on New York cold case files, something along the lines that after we die, we each get a period of about 20 years where people we know might visit our grave from time to time, then another few decades (perhaps up to a century for those with large extended families) where we get remembered in vague terms by those who didn't know us in life, things like "who is that in that photo?" "Oh, that's Aunt Veronica, my Mom's sister, she died in 1960." But eventually there is no one left who knows us even that way, and with time the stone on the grave fades and is gone, as all we were is gone, like a butterfly on the wind.

And I was left to wonder, as I contemplated this within the dream, was it just very human or just pathetic (or both) to want to leave an inscription like that, to try and reach out as it were and make a difference with any kind of meaningful message, even though all I was and had been had long since disappeared? What was the point? I remember what happened to Girard College in Philadelphia, where Girard's very detailed wishes laid out in his will were set aside one by one after he died. I know well that you stop getting a vote in what happens here after you die. Girard's just one example of that, it gets played out time after time in how estates are handled. And that's the way it has to be, I think. Life is for the living. The dead have no need to be concerned over what happens here.

As an aside: if you find yourself awake at 3 AM, the "hour of the wolf", turning on the computer or watching TV is supposed to be one of the worst things you can do to help yourself go back to sleep. Something about the light hitting your eyes confirming to the brain that yes, in fact, it is morning, time to get up and stay awake. So don't do what I did if you find yourself in the same circumstance, unless you feel that it is something worth writing down...because I've also learned that if I try and remember something in a dream or that occurs to me upon waking up at night, I never recall more than fragments, and those almost always seem totally nonsensical and unrelated, precisely because they are fragmentary rather than more coherent wholes.


tagryn: Owl icon (Default)

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