THE DEAD do pretty nicely out of us, the living. We forgive them all mortal transgressions (no matter how irritating they might have been while alive). We would rather focus on treasured memories of earthly goodness. We do what we can to keep their spirits and names alive through misty-eyed remembrance. And we frequently concede that our fondly-related anecdotes, fine and remarkable stories that they are, benefit from the subtle little tweaks in dialogue and circumstance that we bestow upon them. We are proud to be fine ambassadors for our absent friends. Our dearly departed.
We do this because we love them and we miss them. And because we respect and pity them. But there's a little something else in there, too. We're a little worried. We don't understand death, you see. And we cannot be 100 per cent sure that the dead aren't still, you know, here.
That fanciful feeling, probably propagated a little too successfully by religion, that death is followed by something approaching omnipotent immortality, is both appealing and slightly worrying to us mortals. Do we want to be watched over by our dead friends and relatives for the rest of our lives? Is that a beautiful and angelic thing to happen? Possibly not.
A better notion is that of the temporary guest pass. Something that allows the dead to swoop back into the mortal world to maybe say some goodbyes or exert some kind of supernatural influence to universal benefit. That would be a cool thing. And I think it might happen.
My flight of fancy is this: when people die, they re-integrate with the universe. For a short while they are able to exert some kind of influence on the world they have left behind. The dead have superpowers. For a little while, at least.
Here are some anecdotes that will mean nothing to you:
1) My father sent his old car to his funeral.
2) Liz sent a butterfly to her funeral.
3) Ali sent a rainbow to her funeral.
Maybe the transition from life to death is a lot more like going to sleep than we realise. Maybe, when we die, we get a little bonus time to swoop around and do something a little crazy with the world before we are led away from it forever.
We all have to sleep sometime, but before the lights go out. You know. Maybe leave your mark somehow.
I like the idea of a last hurrah. So does E out of Eels. Here's a verse from one of his songs.
"You're dead but the world keeps spinning
Take a spin through the world you left
It's getting dark a little too early
Are you missing the dearly bereft?"
Eels 'Last Stop: This Town'.