June 18, 2005

Realization at Two

It is 2 in the morning, and I just woke from a dream.

Really, not a dream, just a rewind review of my recent life in stills. Anthony's last day of first grade - walking to school together in the cloudless breezy morning, my bright son proudly giving me the answer to every multiplication question we can think of, on what Adam Bosworth would later call a "Perfect New York City Day".

Piper's last day of Little Gym, her eyes revealing a small glimpse of satisfaction after her tumbling routine; later, begging to go to the bookstore to find a Lilo and Stitch painting book she has in mind, an unfulfilled promise on my to-do list as Daddy.

Late night snacks with Heidi, home and tired after seven hours in the operating room and twelve years in hard transformative surgical training. But still through it all somehow the same wonderful, vulnerable Heidi I fell in love with in college, her chopsticks in a Tupperware, picking the good parts out of the leftovers.

Falling asleep talking on the phone while at work from home with the brilliant Kevin Zatloukal, debugging a knotty problem on our exciting little Google project into the wee hours of the night. Gradual progress toward a solution; then finally, in the early morning, victory - Kevin has stitched more elegance into the code, I have tested it out, and we are a step closer to our goal. Work I am very proud of.

A morning doctor's appointment, blood tests, odd meals at odd hours, forgotten promises to return borrowed tennis racquets, flashing police car lights at a traffic stop, other strange flashes of memory. Each photo frame picked and selected and silkscreened into my dream, a carefully edited montage from Picasa.

Then, suddenly, waking up in darkness, alone and face down in our soft bed, fingers tingling, the present is just another photo. There is no sound other than the drone of dry, comfortable central air conditioning.

And I have a realization.

I have been dead for a week, but life has been so good I have not been bothered to let go. I had become comfortable in the vibrancy and beauty of the world, and just as I had brushed off another traffic citation, I had also somehow passed over my own mortality as a forgettable detail in the regular, manic pace of a full life at 100 miles per hour.

My death had been edited out of my slide show. Here I am, an unknowning ghost, attending all my family's milestones, a witness to all the scenes that tell my own story, yet I myself am really only a spectator, because I am already gone.

When did it happen? When did I die? Perhaps alone in bed one night. Perhaps there was an obscure medical problem the symptoms of which I ignored. Maybe I was driving too fast. My mind circles around the puzzle. It is so obvious. How could I have missed my own death? Heidi shuffles in.

Have you ever had the "Sixth Sense" nightmare? I say it aloud.

"You're still alive," Heidi whispers, already almost asleep. She drops herself into bed beside me.

She reaches over to touch my hand. "You are alive," this time a verified medical fact.

Still alive.

Posted by David at June 18, 2005 02:32 AM

Looks like you are this -><- close to understand the "there is no you" belief system of venerable Doug Purdy :)

Posted by: Gia at June 20, 2005 01:28 PM
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