Père Lachaise, Paris, 2011
"There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does."
Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault In Our Stars
I recall reading somewhere that we die three times.
The second, when everyone we ever knew have all died, too.
And the third, final death is when our name is uttered for the very last time.
People share a natural fear of mortality, but where we differ lies in the reasons why we fear annihilation. Some of us simply fear the unknown; Death, of course, being the greatest of these.
Others fear being forgotten; indeed, the thought of no one ever knowing or remembering you once existed is terrifying. To experience and be experienced : that's what make us alive. And therefore to be forgotten - to spend an entire lifetime on this earth without anyone even knowing or remembering you existed - is a particular kind of annihilation.
That is why people who have been reduced to vegetative states or have suffered some sort of damage that prevents them from knowing, sensing, and experiencing the infinite stimuli that make up existence are considered dead - brain-dead, anyway. For without the "consciousness" of existence - the knowing that one is alive - then one may truly just as well be dead.
To be forgotten is to be reduced to nothingness.
On this Day of Remembrance, I must remind myself that.