River

Written by Ken Carman

I can only say what being dead is like for me. I cannot speak for the others.

What follows is what I sense, what I saw: more accurately “didn’t see.” In the world that was, there is no more “me.” The physical me turned ash within days. Yet the “spirit,” if you wish, was stuck here where I died. No “looking down upon myself from the ceiling.” Maybe that’s what happened to others.

Being dead is, at first, like taking a test in school and suddenly finding out you put so many answers in the wrong places. You thought about erasing all your wrong choices as you die but you’ve run out of time.

I had been simply watching TV with my wife when I felt the hammer hit my chest. It was “sledge” in nature. I couldn’t speak; just sit there in more pain than I had ever felt before. Then… nothing except watching the scene… detached.

I saw them come and get my body: my wife couldn’t pick me up… through she tried, hoping to get me to a emergency room. I don’t fault her, besides: I was dead already. She just didn’t know it.

My body was gone, but I was still in the chair. I was spared the indignity of my wife sitting on me, more accurately “in” me. But the cats and the dogs didn’t mind and she didn’t have the heart to chase them off. Eventually she got rid of that chair: it reminded her of the night I died. Only I was still there, as if there was a chair. Same position.

Then the clothes. Cleaning out the house: her life, of all that had been me, every pair of pants, every shirt, underwear, socks; went to Goodwill.

By now I thought I had figured out that I was probably a ghost. A naked ghost, because with every affect of my life that disappeared part of me disappeared. Shampoo in the shower ran out I no longer had hair. My guitars and cars: my hands and feet. When she tossed my glasses I couldn’t see. I’m guessing when she gave away my last CD my ears went.

Not that I regret that. There’s so much you don’t want to hear or see that happens after you’re dead. I heard far too much before the CDs were given away, or my glasses ended up in a landfill. Your former life is shredded and torn into tears and forgetfulness. I’m not sure which is worse for the dead: seeing and hearing what’s happening, or knowing something’s happening but you’ve just lost your hearing, the ability to see. At least the living can forget. When you’re dead you’re reminded over and over: you’re no longer there. A kind of deep, stabbing emotional pain no narcotic could ever reduce.

Being erased one piece at a time is Hell. I thought that’s where I had been sent.

But now… a gentle lifting.

Like a river.

Somehow I sense I am not alone.

We flow.

We seep.

We fill in what was, what is and what will be with whatever we are now. We create time. We are time. We are the creative spark the urges you to write. The thrill of your first love. That “ah ha” moment of realization.

So… I can only say what being dead is for me. I cannot speak for the others.

They are all around me, I don’t know who they are. They flow through me; around me. We are separate. We are one. I think I know who some of them may be; more accurately who they were… but I can only guess.

We’re going somewhere.

Where?

I don’t know.

But there’s no small comfort in the fact that we go there… together.

Every rain drop adds
Every raindrop adds
To the river
To the river
Every river turns
Every river turns
To the sea
To the sea
Seawaves wash the shore
And become raindrops once more

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-Song lyrics from Ken Carman’s River Raindrop Sea

Copyright 1996
Loose Moose Music/bmi
all rights reserved

Story…

Copyright 2009
Ken Carman
all rights reserved

Picture courtesy of pbase.com