Friday, February 23, 2007

The grand finale ....

... 'A very trifling incident'.

Thanks to an experience I had a number of years ago, I am persuaded that death is not the absolute end of us. It isn't that I believe in an afterlife. I just think that life, once started, doesn't end.


  1. I'd be interested in this experience, also because of an experience of a close friend after her son's death. Would you care to share your own?

  2. Since you ask, Lee, here it is. While I do think that experience trumps all theories, I offer it only as something that happened to me and regarding which I am free to make up my own mind.
    About 20 years ago I lived in a large house in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. One Tuesday morning, as I was about to leave for the office, I heard the trash truck making its way slowly down the street. Over the weekend, an old chair in the second-floor sitting room had been broken. I looked at it and realized it wasn't worth repairing, so quickly gathered up the pieces to run them outside. As I rushed out with them, though, one of the legs caught on to the glass knob of the siiting room's French doors, causing me to bounce off the bookcase in the hall. The upshot was that I next found myself going over the bannister toward the first-floor living room. All this happened in a trice. But once it started, it happened in slow-motion. I had enough time to tell myself wryly that I was about to die a ridiculous death (nice to know that, facing death, as I thought I was, I retained a sense of humor). But I also knew, from years of hiking and climbing, to relax. Just before I hit the landing of the stairs (from there to bounce into the living room), I could sense that I was about to enter an empty, extraordinarily bright room (not the actual living room) and that I had better be prepared to account for ... my entire life.
    The vision - or whatever it was - passed instantly, because I ended up with only a concussion and a dislocated small finger. But the vividness of it has never left me, and my understanding of it has always been that I as I would have continued in some way and had been expected to do something thereafter.

  3. Frank, thanks for responding. I'll return the favour. This happened to one of my oldest and closest friends after her teenage son died. She's a scientist, by the way, and not at all prone to flights of fancy. Anyway, soon after the funeral she was walking with her daughter across the vlei near the cemetery. It was a bright, cloudless African day with no trees or even high bushes in the vicinity. Suddenly she stopped and asked her daughter, a university student at the time, if she noticed anything unusual. My friend did NOT tell her daughter what she herself was seeing, because she wanted independent confirmation. Her daughter pointed to the ground ahead of them. A third shadow lay between their two, and once they resumed walking, accompanied them for at least ten minutes.

    My friend has no physical explanation of the phenomenon. She herself does not believe in ghosts or spirits, and her daughter is even more skeptical. And it never happened again. But they both confirm what they saw. Wishful thinking? A joint hallucination? I have no idea, but I do trust them to have recounted the experience accurately, at least subjectively.