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The non-Linear nature of death and the eternal now: September 7, 2009

Posted by johnbohlinger in Uncategorized.
 August often used three dots in a row in his art,  which is an ellipses which signifies that something has been taken out... or is to be continued.

August often used three dots in a row in his art, an ellipses which signifies that something has been taken out... or is to be continued.

A Cemetery of the Capuchins monks lies beneath a small Chapel at Via Vento 27 in Rome.  Literally thousands of ghoulish skeletons adorn the walls and ceilings of the crypt, their bones artistically arranged.   There’s a small sign amongst these bones written in Latin which translates “What you are, we were. What we are, you will be.”  I find that morbidly comforting.

My son August’ birthday came and went two days ago.  Milestones like birthdays evoke memories of his birthdays past.  It’s so strange how days fall in chronological order but memories radically break that sequence.  My son’s first birthday, which happened 21 years ago,  seems more present and real to me than what I did this morning.  The day he died still doesn’t seem real though I’ve had two years to adjust to the idea.  That’s the funny thing about time, the closer you observe it’s passing, the more abstract it seems.
I have a theory about time, space, life and death, influenced by what I’ve read about different religious theories and my semi-understanding of the space-time continuum, but mostly my theory stems from my need for peace of mind and a break from grief.  Maybe it’s crazy or maybe it’s inspired. You judge.
The non-Linear nature of death and the eternal now:
Christians believe in a day of rapture when all souls living and long since dead unite with God;  as if my mother, three years gone, and my son, two years gone, Theodore D. Roosevelt,  90 years gone, wait in heaven to meet us when we die or when Jesus returns, which ever comes first.  I think/hope that when we move out of life, we pass out of  linear time and enter a realm of the eternal now.  Maybe at the final millisecond we breath our last, we break past this world’s frame work of sequential order and enter a dimension where we all begin again simultaneously: call it heaven, Eden, Zion,Olympus, Elysium, Valhalla,  Nirvana, the happy hunting grounds, what ever.   It’s like my son August stepped through this door exiting life in 2007,  Gandhi in 1948, me sometime in the future, but we all enter the door of the next dimension at the same time; the moment of universal rapture.  In short,  we all get to the next place together.  I like that idea.
I never could stand the thought of August being alone or afraid in another place away from me, even if that place is heaven,  (I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense).    I take a lot of comfort in the thought that my mother and my grandparents are with my son in death,  enjoying each other’s company but I would prefer all of us together in the eternal present.
There are two options:  either death is the end and my son is quite literally reduced to memories and dust, or there is an existence beyond life;  if option two proves to be what awaits us, August is there, and so am I,  just in another space, rather than another time.
I just re-read this and it sounds a bit crazed,  but look at Dante, the guy’s magna opus ran for thousands of pages with his view of the after life,  inspired by his unrequited love and grief over Beatrice.   Since losing Aug, I can’t stop thinking about death, though it’s a futile  pursuit in that there are no answers,  just theories we can or can not live with.  I can live with this one.



1. Christopher - September 8, 2009

I love that image of us stepping out the door of linear time into the eternal present. Thanks, John.

2. me - September 15, 2009

I wish, John, that on the other side there is something like what you describe. I happen not to believe, but what a great surprise it would be if I’m wrong! What has worked for me for many years now is being close to my mother in my thoughts, in my conversations with her. That is what is real for me, and in doing that I have been able to live without her (she died when I was eight years old at the age of 37).

3. me - September 15, 2009

I love the new design of your Web!

4. mt - October 2, 2009

this is a very helpful perspective.

5. Lena - January 27, 2010

Not only does time seem abstract, but life and all of the events that occur within it. This seems to be my reality now that I have lost my beautiful and gifted 19 year old daughter. Nothing looks the same. It is as if the colours are there but the intensity of them has diminished. Days come and go but without her radiance, energy, humour, and beauty, a life force is gone.
I desperately want to know if she exists in another dimension but am afraid of that question. I fear my own doubts about this and yet consider myself a spiritual person. I want her in the here and now and want to scoff at transcendence. She was very down to earth and I feel that earth is where she belonged for at least another 80 years. And yet sometimes I am drawn to wonder why it seems that beautiful and promising children die? Or are all children beautiful? Well at least the ones I read about whose parents write about them. My daughter was everything I ever wanted. I loved her with a depth and intensity that I felt could not be rivalled but somehow it wasn’t enough and evil forces beyond my control intervened. Is that what happens? Is it just random selection? Why did I have a sense that I should not return home the night before it happened? An intuitive sense that I should have listened to more closely. So many unanswered questions.

6. Michael - February 5, 2010

My wife Valerie lost her daughter (from her first marriage) 2002 at the age of 4 due to complications of Cerebral Paulsy. I witnessed what a grieving parent went through. Her daughter passed as she spent the night with me, while under her husband’s care. She had a Trach and suffocated in her sleep.

My wife, in an obscure way may blame me because she spent the night and wasn’t available. She has since been able to patch together her life. But when asked how many children she has, she feels conflicted. I am unable to conceive of the scar. At first, she dealt with it through drinking during post-partum, then verbal and physical abuse. It almost cost me my career, ensuing with frequency of law enforcement; and a 6 month command directed restraining order.

She has developed well today. She doesn’t communicate with her first husband, whom I cannot imagine what guilt he lives through.

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