October 3, 2011



Over coffee with a friend we stumbled over a mutual friend’s name. A name I had emailed just days before, a name of someone I know well, We moved on in the conversation, though it was driving me crazy. My fingers itched to do a quick search for him on my iPhone. I resisted, willing my brain to kick in. Still no name. And then it came to my friend – “James” she pronounced. Yes, James. We chuckled at our memory loss. Later that day the friend sent me a text “Funny about James.” And yes, for longer than I would like to admit, I had no idea who she was referring to.

I do worry that Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia, will strike me, and that prevention and a cure are not on the horizon. I have questions about the implications of dying consciously or not. And it all scares me.
Here’s how my rumination progresses:

If I’m lucky, I’ll die very old and consciously.

If I am conscious when I die will I go gracefully?

Will I clutch to the memories of the life I am leaving?

If the Near Death Experience (NDE) research is correct, and my life will pass before my eyes will I clutch at the memories?

What If I have no memories?

Will it be easier to die without them, unconsciously?

No memories, nothing to let go of?

Will I pass without my life passing before my eyes?

Is that a good thing?

All this places smack in the territory of “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Do memories exist if they are not perceived? Incessant google searches inform me that no one can answer these epistemological queries. And so, I am left, still searching.

Comments (2)

  1. October 8, 2011
    • November 16, 2011
      aftert11 said...

      The relationship between death and dreaming have a long and close association in poetry and literature –
      most famously in Shakespeare’s existential “to be or not to be” there are the words
      “To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
      For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
      When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
      Must give us pause”

      Look forward to reading more about the scientific research on this relationship.

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