Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The dead in my head

A funny thing happens to our relationship with people who have left this dimension: like Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim, they become unstuck in time. At least, that is how I experience it.

I noticed it first with my father. I have led a lucky life in many ways, and had good parents. 
I got to keep them for a long time too. Dad died in 2000, age 84.  He was in full possession of his mind till the very end,  but in his last few years his personality had suffered a bit. The ability to always see the other side of an issue, so typical of his charming Libra nature, was turning into a peevish contrariness. He was no longer quite the tolerant intellectual who instilled a deep respect for universal human rights in his children. 

Once he was gone my memory mind reconstituted him in the fullness of his life, not as the diminished version of his final years. It did the same with Mom, who was predeceased by much of her mind by the time she left here 9 years later, aged 93. 

And now, almost 6 months ago already, my husband of 53 years has joined them. The same process happened here. Mostly gone is the suffering and senile patient of the last years. I remember that time, of course. But when an association pops up that would have had us smile together about a shared memory, the version of Chris who shows up is the one that was present when that memory was made. 

My dead are much with me as I go through the days. Not in a grief stricken or morbid way, just as company in my head, popping up as things remind me of them. They are getting more numerous. A special friend who we knew from way back in the Netherlands and who moved to Calgary 4 weeks after we did died a few months ago. 

And so it goes. Sooner or later the presence of the dead will outnumber the living. I imagine that by that time it will seem the most natural thing to let go of this world and go wherever it is that the dead in our head have gone. 


The dead in my head are a treasure of memory that enriches the  present. I am in no hurry to join them. I feel fine, live surrounded by natural beauty and a good community, and am enjoying every blessed day I am granted.