My nana died last Sunday.
I always loved a story she told about her childhood in Broken Hill, back when the Afghani camel trains were still trekking through. A story about a little girl sneaking over her back fence to their camp, and trading a watermelon from her parent’s garden for a ride on a camel.
When I first moved out of home to a crusty share house in North Adelaide, Nana told me how she’d done the same, moving interstate with her sister, living just down the street from where I was, walking to the city every day to work. I always wondered what shenanigans they got up to, two young unchaperoned girls down in the big smoke, with wages to burn.
By chance I was there at the end. Even as an avowed atheist you still imagine some last dramatic moment. Instead of the soul leaving the body, I pictured the last electrical impulses in the brain being that final moment, the switch flicking, a definite end.
But it wasn’t like that, it was more like a rope unraveling, a gradual winding down that was somehow more mundane and at the same time reassuring.
For now at least, I’m not frightened of dying anymore.
I don’t know why the scientific view of the universe is seen as more limited, less magical. A world of happy endings, of mortal puppets acting out the fates allotted by a secretive god, seems stifling next to the wonder of a universe where a million random dice rolls can make a dinosaur or a wildflower, or a civilisation of evolved apes.
Give me the cold infinity of space rather than the golden ceiling of heaven.