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2006-01-03 - 2:11 p.m.

In the words of Bob Dylan, �I had too much to dream last night.�

this holiday season has seen me laid low with not only the respiratory version of the flu, but the gastrointestinal version as well, both within one week of each other. Needless to say, a sound night�s sleep is something that has eluded me for a while now. Last night, instead of tossing and turning in bed, disturbing the sleep of my long-suffering girlfriend, Bonney, the only one of us that had to get up to go to work this morning, I stayed up reading comic books to pass the time while waiting for my stomach to settle.
Yes, I know. Perhaps it is not the technique you would employ to drive away the evil stomach demons, but for me it works remarkably well. It allows my mind and my body to focus on something other than the rather alarming noises emanating from my midsection. And, it keeps me out of bed, allowing Bonney to get some much-needed sleep.
The poison of choice last night was Neil Gaiman�s THE BOOKS OF MAGIC If there are any of you out there that believed in magic at one point in your lives or another, I strongly recommend you giving this book a go. The story is absolutely spellbinding (pun definitely intended) and the storytelling compelling. The author who wrote the introduction to the piece compared it to the classical �hero�s journey�, which is in evidence. I was reminded of Ebenezer Scrooge�s travails, as well.
At any rate, at the end of the story, Mortality is examined rather thoroughly (I will not spoil it for those of you who are going to read it). Reading about mortality is not something for the faint of heart at three in the morning under normal circumstances. Reading about mortality during the Hour of the Wolf ( under �G is for Ghost Stories�),let alone when your insides are tying themselves in knots and you are the sole audience to that sound, is exquisitely unsettling.
When I eventually slept, I dreamt. When I dreamt, I despaired. What does this all mean? What does this all mean if we are not to be remembered? What does this mean even if we are remembered? What happens when those who remember us die? What happens when all our efforts, all our passions, all our hopes and dreams and failures and victories all fade into the dust? What did it all mean?
I woke briefly to see Bonney out the door to work. When I returned to bed, I thought about those that would be left behind when I die: My friends. My girlfriend (and soon to be wife) Bonney, my brothers and sisters, my cousins. What would happen to them? I know they would be alright, for the most part. They are all strong and I know Life goes on. I know I would miss them terribly, assuming there is anything to feel after this existence (who knows the answer to that one?). What did it all mean?
The only answer that I came up with that held any amount of comfort for me was what I meant to them when I was alive. Did I talk to them? Did I talk to them as befits them (they are intelligent and strong) ? Was I there for them when they needed me? Did I make myself available to my friends and my family when they needed me? I already know the answer to that last one is �no�, I haven�t. I�ve been told as much by my siblings and my friends that I haven�t been there every time they�ve needed me to be there. And that hurts. On both sides of the equation.
My dreams provided little comfort other than one point: What did I make of my life with respect to the people that I share my life with? If I made a good life by keeping my family and friends close and healthy and strong, what better life can one dare to hope for?

I don�t know if that was what Mr. Gaiman was intending when he wrote �The Books of Magic�,
but for those of you who have yet to experience The Dreaming after reading one of his graphic novels, prepare for an eventful ride in your mind�s eye that night when you sleep. No, this isn�t a commercial for Neil Gaiman, just me wondering aloud (on page).


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