I Died Last Night

I find it strange I died last night
My withered body quite a sight
But here I am alive today
Is this just another kind of play?

I died last night. Everyone was properly sad. My body was properly decaying. The hearse delivered my corpse to a house on a hill but left me out in the rain—at the bottom of the hill. My family managed to get me up to the house and place me on a table in a room by myself.

In the kitchen next door I am my older self sitting at the dining table. I am slowly eating a bowl of oatmeal and conversing with my son who looks like my younger father. My son goes into the room where I lay in state but gasps in surprise because I am now sitting up. My skin is radiant and supple. I say, “Hello there, you probably thought I was dead. Well, now I’m not.” 

My son (father, self) returns to the kitchen and invites my older self to come and see the miracle. My older self is so overwhelmed by the sight that another older self comes in and stands on the other side of me. So here I am, flanked by two older selves, with my son (who is my father) gazing upon the scene.

I say, “Yes, I was dead, but now I am alive. I think I need to go out and make amends for this life, to make up for lost time. There are people I did not love and others I have yet to love. It is time I did so. Maybe you could help me get dressed and then you can all fade away …”

Sometimes we have dreams like this. Transformational dreams. Sometimes they seem universal in theme. We always have another chance to wake up and cease holding back the love of which we are capable. We always need to invite help from our unintegrated parts. So it is in this living dream. We take on the mask of death, die to the moment, and then enter a new life where we may become more skillful in love and compassion.

I am reminded of the first stanza of the poem, Antigonish, by William Hughes Mearns:

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

From a Buddhist perspective, we are never here in the way we think. Even Buddha said, “I came in a dreamlike body to teach a dreamlike Dharma to dreamlike beings. But, actually, I never came and never taught.” Just try to wrap a self around that! Dying to the moment, letting go of our imagined dramas, brings us alive. It is wonderful how unconditional love is the only thing that survives the paradox.

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