Saturday, January 22, 2011
My baby boy Big died Thursday night. He was a turtle. A yellow bellied slider turtle. I have taken care of him for the past 16 years. He was in some troubled straits due to pneumonia this fall but he fought back and recovered. But then he suddenly died overnight this past Thursday evening.
I don't know much book larnin' but I do know that all atoms larger than lithium were made in the furnaces of stars. So Big and I are made of star stuff, welded from supernova billions of years ago and millions of light years away. Our atoms happened to coincide and combine in a tiny corner of the Universe and took on the character we call life, and through an inconceivable numbers of coincidences, we met in 1995 and formed a relationship.
Like all people grieving, I am struggling for answers to the horror and sheer blankness. I have none that are good -- who can -- but a dead guy, Carl Sagan, provides something that is comforting and as irrational as it is rational. As proven as it is unproven. And at least not gin-soaked with lies.
It is the Greek word Cosmos. It means all but it also means every one of us, from the smallest to largest. Nobody knows who will be the tiny shrew who becomes the first mammal or if mammals will evolve at all. Nobody knows who will be the slave who becomes King or the King who disappears into oblivion. Except for random events we could all be highly intelligent yet fascist Trilobites now.
But while I do hope there is still the Soul of Big, the Turtle, and I hope Big is now touring the Cosmos aware and alive mentally, I doubt that just as much as I doubt the same is happening with my Dad, who died in 1996. As much as I'd like to believe my Dad is flying around the Cosmos alert and talking on his CB radio and writing newsletters, I get the feeling that's not the way it goes. Nor for Big either. Or Big in the Big Aether.
Upon Death, we re-enter the Cosmos as primordial atoms and molecules from which we sprung. Like a a very abrasive skin scrub that takes away your whole body. By re-entering the Primordial Stew as non-conscious carbon atoms, we still remain just as much of the stuff as all our ancestors and ancestors and ancestors. In this sense we become one with our mothers the earliest bacteria. It's just that we don't see a violet light and shake their hands and hug and ask what's for dinner. But in a sense we do. To hug your bacterial mother you sort of have to be reduced to simple carbon molecules, or you'd not even recognize her.
All history is oral history since libraries are usually burned down if only for spite when they are preserved well. So just by writing this Epiphany to Big, the Turtle, I am making him in a small way more immortal than he would be otherwise.
It's the only thing the living can do for the dead.
Bye Big. I loved you.