The Grateful Dead
I had no idea Sarah’s sacrifice would come back and bite her in the ass the way it did. I thought the same as what Sarah told Henry the first time he visited the farm after she shot me: “I’m not really worried about the legal part…. No one—aside from us—has noticed Joe’s gone, and I don’t think anyone ever will. Who’s going to miss a crippled old coot? He’s got no family left except us, the family he picked out for himself.” That, however, was before the shit hit the fan.
I had my apprehensions going in. Of course I did. I didn’t know what dying or being dead would be like. If it was scary for me, I can only imagine what Sarah must’ve been feeling. I’m sure shooting me tested her love to the limit, and took every bit of her considerable strength, guts and nerve. All I knew was that I’d stop hurting, which was what everything in me craved. Mission accomplished!
Though I was being selfish, I knew Sarah would suffer some sort of emotional backlash for doing me the big favor of killing me. She did, much more than anything I could’ve anticipated. That’s why I made a habit of visiting her dreams, to show her I’m just the same, only blessedly free of the pain that haunted me in life—all thanks to her.
It’s not that I didn’t love the world—how I loved the world! But the pain of it purely got to me. I wouldn’t’ve stayed as long as I did if not for the love of my friends who I believed I’d be leaving behind.
Well, I did leave them behind in a way. But they’re still with me and I’m still with them. It’s not the same as daily life in the flesh, of course. I’d give anything short of death to be sitting on the porch right now in the company of my dearly beloved and a fresh gin tonic. To everybody but Sarah, I’m more just memories and feelings and ideas than any kind of presence. And a huge pain in the ass that no one, much less myself, ever foresaw. I thought the biggest mess I’d be leaving them with was the chore of burying me. Who knew that bitch Renee would figure the deal out—and then try to blackmail Sarah and them over it?! And then to watch strong, smart, always-together Sarah start to lose her sanity as a result…. It broke my heart. And it was all my fault. My relief came at Sarah’s expense.
Although it hurt me, I totally understood where Sarah was coming from in the dream where she wished me truly dead in her mind, as in dead and gone. There’s no way that she could understand the forces at play here. She’s a living person; she can’t. I’d been teasing sleeping Sarah, as usual, trying to reassure her, if only by reminding her that she could always talk to me. But I broke protocol and apologized sincerely, sincerely urging her to tell me what I could do to help.
“Well, you can admit you’re dead, for starters,” she said, peeved.
“Okay, I’m dead,” I admitted, and went away, hoping my absence would help her. It didn’t.
Sarah came back to me, seeking me out this time. I did the very best I could, wishing I could hold her hand physically as well. I’d never seen her so vulnerable, so weak, so uncertain. Sarah spoke to me about all the aspects of the problem, trying on this scenario and that, trying to suss out a solution. She told me, in great detail, about the situation’s ill effects on every member of the household except herself. (But that I could see for myself.) Some of what Sarah said was rational, but a lot of it was crazy talk. The dear old girl was losing it. All over helping me to the last best thing. It almost made me wish I’d never died.
When you’re alive, you have purely got to take the fullest advantage of what you can only assume is your once and only life, just as I’m trying to make the most of what might be my one and only death. That’s why it sickened my soul to see Sarah squandering her joy as a result of releasing me into greater joy. Because I’m inside her now, I feel every agony she suffers just as she suffers it. How I wished I could find some way to relieve her of her suffering, just as she did for me. Talk about frustrating!
But it all worked out, thanks to Sarah’s living friends. Agency isn’t always a straight-line thing. Grace does exist in the world and it visited itself on that loving household yet again. Sarah’s courage has always been a lightning rod for grace. Combine that with Sam’s loyalty, Henry’s commitment, Betty’s faith and Libby’s heart—whoa, stand back! A lot of serious divine mojo going on! I was there and felt the force of that remarkable convergence. The entire outcome turned on a moment; energies everyone but maybe Sarah had no sense of were concentrated on a word, a glance, a gesture. Everything was dialed in, everyone pulled together. These precious, extraordinary folks had the grace to make it happen.
This is just the kind of cool shit that really makes a dead man proud.
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