Cole Sear: I see dead people.
Malcolm Crowe: In your dreams?
[Cole shakes his head no]
Malcolm Crowe: While you’re awake?
Malcolm Crowe: Dead people like, in graves? In coffins?
Cole Sear: Walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead.
Malcolm Crowe: How often do you see them?
Cole Sear: All the time. They’re everywhere.
“The Sixth Sense” 1999
Over the past day, I have had the chance (through television) to see three dead people. The experiences couldn’t have been any more different.
Saddam Hussein first.
When word of his death came out, I felt nothing. I wasn’t happy or sad. He was a terrible man in life. There was still no satisfaction he had been executed.
I asked a friend if he felt anything different? No.
It’s my understanding video of his actual hanging is on the Internet. I’ll pass. By mistake I did stumble upon a photo of his head, slumped over, while his neck was still in the noose. That was gruesome enough for me.
There is a more sanitized image I have seen, both online and in this morning’s newspaper. The caption says it is Saddam, wrapped in a white shroud. He looks as if he’s going out with the recyclables.
It’s likely those involved did everything possible to remove any shred of dignity from Saddam’s death. Mission accomplished.
At the very opposite end of the death spectrum is James Brown. We are willing to forgive his human shortcomings (of which he had many) because of the gift he brought us all, with his music.
I found a clip from his funeral/concert, on-the-air this morning, completely unnerving. People were on stage, performing his music, while James was laid out in an open coffin down by the footlights.
A singer moved his act toward the apron of the stage and then turned down to address James, in song, personally.
I’m Jewish. We do not do open coffins.
These performers were being totally respectful to the memory of James Brown. It’s just particularly freaky to me. That’s my problem, not theirs. We all grieve in different ways.
Finally, there’s Gerald Ford. I remember his presidency, which came while I was a young adult. And, certainly, he was a very visible figure as an ex-president.
Unlike Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush, Ford actually seemed like a retired guy from Palm Springs – not a statesman sans portfolio.
He seemed so unassuming in life. Would he have wanted this big to do? And it’s not over yet.
The ceremonies in Washington last night were important and stately enough to demand live network coverage… though not important enough to preempt the Giants/Redskins game. President Bush signed an order closing all federal offices – including the Postal Service – on Tuesday, in honor of President Ford.
Is that what the Ford family requested, in lieu of flowers?