by Carl Sagan
My parents died years ago. I was very close to them. I still miss them terribly. I know I always will. I long to believe that their essence, their personalities, what I loved so much about them, are — really and truly — still in existence somewhere. I wouldn’t ask very much, just five or ten minutes a year, say, to tell them about their grandchildren, to catch them up on the latest news, to remind them that I love them. There’s a part of me — no matter how childish it sounds — that wonders how they are. “Is everything all right?” I want to ask. The last words I found myself saying to my father, at the moment of his death, were “Take care.”
Sometimes I dream that I’m talking to my parents, and suddenly — still immersed in the dreamwork — I’m seized by the overpowering realization that they didn’t really die, that it’s all been some kind of horrible mistake. Why, here they are, alive and well, my father making wry jokes, my mother earnestly advising me to wear a muffler because the weather is chilly. When I wake up I go through an abbreviated process of mourning all over again. Plainly, there’s something within me that’s ready to believe in life after death. And it’s not the least bit interested in whether there’s any sober evidence for it.
So I don’t guffaw at the woman who visits her husband’s grave and chats him up every now and then, maybe on the anniversary of his death. It’s not hard to understand. And if I have difficulties with the ontological status of who she’s talking to, that’s all right. That’s not what this is about. This is about humans being human. More than a third of American adults believe that on some level they’ve made contact with the dead. The number seems to have jumped by 15 percent between and 1988. A quarter of Americans believe in reincarnation.
“The Fine Art of Baloney Detection,” by Carl Sagan
by Carl Sagan