“It was late afternoon and unusual for me to be in bed. I knew somehow — without actually feeling anything — that this was my last day. Probably the most vivid dream I’ve ever had.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Because you were there. Sitting beside the bed. Holding my hand. So I knew it was O.K. to die. So I did. You’re not embarrassed, are you? Don’t be.”
“Just a little, but go on — I guess.”
“Then you and all the color in the room faded away. Everything — the walls and furniture; even the trees and sky I could see out the window turned white. Not some antiseptic nursing-home white. Not the absence of color but what color always wanted to be and missed: its total presence! Somewhere between South Sea pearl, white diamonds, and — oh, I dunno — cottage cheese. You just wanted to smear it on a bagel with lox. Now here’s the weird part. Rick Astley was there, doing his MTV video ‘Never going to give you up’ but in a 70’s sharkskin suit with those pencil legs. How’d they get into those things?”
“You hated everything 70’s.”
“I know. Weird, isn’t it. Except it wasn’t Astley in that suit. It was Morgan Freeman, doing all those 70’s dance moves.
“Then the room turned tomato — like crustini without basil. It was the Dulwich Picture Gallery, with every painting I ever loved: ‘Das Floß der Medusa.’ ‘The Martyrdom of Crispin and Crispinian.’ Most of Holman Hunt’s work. And Morgan Freeman was still there. Minus the sharkskin suit.”
“Freeman was naked!?”
“No, silly. In a three-piece suit, like some insurance agent, intent on making you comfortable. I said, ‘I thought you’d be more like Ella Fitzgerald.’ ‘Oh, I could if it would be easier on you, being dead and all. Besides Ella is with Donald Trump just now.’ ‘Trump!’ I blurted in a far more accusatory tone than the moment might have warranted. ‘I thought he’d be in the other place, you know, pitchforks and sulphur.’ Then he genuinely shocked me: ‘This is what you all got so consistently wrong: It’s all heaven. Some people just don’t get the one they expected.'”
“I gotta ask: what did you have for supper? This sounds like indigestion to me.”
“‘Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry, but why on Earth should that mean it’s not real?’ Sorry for the Dumbledore quote but, when it’s your time, Mr Freeman tells me that’s who you can expect.
“This isn’t my dream, you know. You just screwed Sarah, rolled over, and went to sleep. So all this is in your head, not mine.
“But that doesn’t mean it’s not real.”