28 July 2014

Recollections from My Deathbed

Science says we dream all the time, but I rarely have any recollection of them. Last night, though, I had one in which I was in a hospital bed. A doctor who kinda reminded me of former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told me there was nothing more that could be done for me except to try to make things less painful and more peaceful. I don't think it was ever explained just what had happened. I like to think I sustained mortal wounds in a spectacular battle, Optimus Prime-style, but it was probably just my stupid guts. He said I had maybe a couple of hours remaining. Most of my family and friends were in the waiting area. I asked for each of them to be sent to me one at a time, and for him to do whatever he could to buy me enough time to say something to each of them.

I told some what I had learned from them; others, what I hoped they'd learned from me. In broad terms, I like to think those around me have helped me to define and apply my core values: compassion, patience, encouragement, trust, respect, kindness, acceptance. Likewise, I hope I've in turn helped others to find the self-confidence to question things, to find and use their voices, and hopefully to take a step they didn't originally think they could or maybe didn't even want to take.

I don't recall the issue of forgiveness coming up. I've made mistakes and I've been wronged, but I generally feel square with the world these days. My conscience feels clean at night and I don't carry the toxin of grudges. Sometimes I forget how valuable that is.

I told a couple of jokes I like to tell to some of my visitors. I like to make people laugh.

Guy gets pulled over by a cop for speeding. Cop walks up and asks for his license and registration. Guy says, "Well, officer, I'm gonna be honest. My license was revoked, and I don't know a thing about the registration for this car. I stole it just now from a little old lady I've got tied up in the trunk."

Cop says, "Wait right here" and then calls for backup. Within minutes, they're surrounded by every cop in the tri-state area; SWAT and helicopters and K-9's, the whole deal. The police commissioner himself tentatively approaches the driver and asks for the guy's identity.

Guy very cautiously produces his wallet and shows the commish a perfectly valid driver's license.

"I don't suppose you have the registration for this car?" the commish asks.

"Right here," the guy says, extracting it from the glove box.

Perplexed, the commish asks if the guy would consent to opening the trunk. Guy says that'd be fine, so they go around to the back of the car. He unlocks the trunk. No little old lady.

"I don't get it," the commish says. "The officer who called us in said you had no license or registration, that you'd stolen this car and had the driver tied up in the trunk."

"Yeah? I'll bet the lying s.o.b. said I was speeding, too!"

I brought up a favorite shared memory to some of my visitors. The best anecdotes can be conjured by shorthand, of course. A time and place (Salinas, KS; December, 2002) or a phrase ("twenty-four m***********' doughnuts!") will do the trick. No one said anything to me about the memory on their mind. Maybe because it was my dream? I don't know. I remember telling my cousin that this blog was full of my little stories and that it would be here for her once I was gone. [Note to self: record more anecdotes here.]

Some visits were entirely silent. A few just climbed into the hospital bed next to me and I did my best to just hold them for a few minutes. It was easier that way. I felt particularly mischievous and faked already having died just before one friend came to see me. I laughed. She didn't. I'm not going to reveal which friend this was because I think she'd be angry with me in real life if she knew I'd done that to her, even in a dream. Besides, I might actually have the presence of mind to pull that stunt one day and I don't want to spoil it entirely.

In all, I guess I remember about a dozen different visitors, with the sense of having met briefly with twenty or more in all. I don't remember how it ended. Maybe I'm still in that bed saying goodbyes. Maybe I just kind of slipped away. It could even be that I started to wake up around the end of the dream. I can't say. It didn't feel like awakening had interrupted the dream, but it might have.

I made one friend smile by simply going over a quick list of singers I was now going to have the chance to hear: Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Ray Price. I hoped they all sounded like they did later in their careers. I don't know why it should have mattered in the dream for me to remark, or for me to remember that detail from the dream, but there it is. I feel like he and I sang something together a cappella, but I couldn't rightly say what it was if we did.

As far as my arrangements, I let it be known in the dream and I'll say it here: Cremate my remains and scatter the ashes. I don't much care where, but no one gets to keep any of them. I don't want to be a tangible souvenir. I'm not sure how legally binding a blog post can be, but in the event that something should happen to me and I haven't made any formal final arrangements, someone please be sure to remember this!

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