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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Epilogue to My Life on the Edge of Reality

If you bought the first edition of my memoir Tessa B. Dick: My Life on the Edge of Reality, then you need to see the Epilogue that I added to the second edition.

Here it is:


“You will remember.” Phil insisted.  “And you will write about it.”

Those words echoed in my mind for many years after his sudden and unexpected death from a series of massive strokes.  I wrote about it many times, but my books and articles failed to find a market in the traditional publishing industry.  Finally, when the Internet began to grow up, the POD (Publishing on Demand) industry gave me an outlet for these words. 

I remember, and I write.  The last time I saw Phil, he demanded and pleaded that I write about his experiences.  I take that mission very seriously.

He never saw the riches that his works have produced since Hollywood discovered that his stories are marketable as movies.  The money from Bladerunner allowed him to buy his condominium apartment and a little red sports car (a Mercury Capris, the last model made in Germany).  However, Phil never basked in luxury.  He continued to lead a middle-class life in Santa Ana, California, until God took him home.

He continued searching for his soul mate, but he never found her.  I like to think that I was sitting right there on his sofa, the dark-haired girl that he wrote about in one of his few nonfiction books.  Neither of us was suited to a normal life with a regular job, family picnics and soccer games, although we both tried to fit in to that template. 

We could be happy with a few cats and a small garden, but we wanted the stars.   

Coffee flowed and cigarettes burned while we discussed the nature of reality, the reality of hallucinations and the meaning of everything. 

Phil was the only person I could talk to about the demons that haunted me.  He often said that I was the only person he could talk to about his visionary experience.  We both seemed to be living in two realities, one shared by the rest of humanity and the other ethereal but almost tangible.  Shadowy figures would walk through the walls and watch us from the corners of the room.  Some would disappear when we saw them or spoke to them, while others would engage in conversation.  They didn’t seem to have answers for us; in fact, they asked us questions about our world. 

Some of them claimed to be time travelers from our future.  They were trying to change our world in order to improve their world.  They lived in a nightmare created by their own eugenics program.  No longer able to reproduce naturally, they attempted cloning with less than desirable results.  They had damaged their own DNA so badly, and limited their gene pool so severely, that they needed to reach into the past to find viable genetic lines.  If they could protect those lines from the coming global disaster, they could find people in their time with viable DNA.  

They could not grab some DNA from us to take back to their time and use it.  They had to make sure that our descendants survived into their time.  Failing that, they hoped to find burials and extract DNA from the dead. 

Other visitors seemed to be more concerned with religion than with science or the future.  Phil read John Allegro’s book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross at least three times, taking notes and discussing it in depth.  Allegro, who had early access to the Dead Sea Scrolls, shocked his colleagues with his theory that the early Christians were using hallucinogenic mushrooms and worshipping pine trees. 

Phil and I alternated between believing everything and doubting everything.  We were children exploring a treasure cave in the woods. 

Phil was a loving father to our son Christopher, but I could not live with him during that period when I was going to college.  Phil stubbornly resisted my attempts to get outside of our own little universe, to meet people and gain knowledge.  He wanted to keep me for himself, trapped in the house like some treasure that you bring out only on special occasions.  He feared that I would leave him for another man, but that never happened.  In fact, Phil left me to take care of Doris Sauter, who had terminal cancer but is still alive thirty-plus years later. 

Phil thought that he could come back to me when Doris moved out, but I couldn’t keep up the rent on our little house on Santa Ysabel in Fullerton, and he had moved into an apartment where children were not allowed.  So we visited often and stayed late into the night, our young son enjoying time with his father while we discussed religion, philosophy, psychology and more. 

I finished my associate degree at Fullerton Community College and went on to Chapman College, where several of my professors were big fans of Phil’s work.  My major had been pre-medicine, but my associate degree was in foreign language, so I majored in communications and went on to take a master’s degree in English literature.  The wide-ranging education that Chapman College gave me has served me well over the years.  My original goal was to become a veterinarian, but I soon realized that I wanted to be a science writer.  That second goal never bore fruit, either. 

However, Phil and I grew closer over the years as we both realized that neither of us wanted anybody else.  We were planning to remarry on our wedding anniversary, April 18, but Phil died on March 2. 

I was devastated, as was our son.  Christopher was only nine years old when he lost his father, and he still feels the pain of that loss. 

I hope that my words keep Phil’s memory alive.  His body has failed, but his words and his spirit live on.



Regan Lee said...

Tessa, thank you for this -- I am very moved by your honesty and your bravery in sharing this. I will email you.. thank you.

tuffy777 said...

Regan, thank you for your comment and email -- I was touched by both

Donna said...

So touching. I need to read your book now. Thank you for sharing such personal memories. I am a new follower GFC and would love a follow visit from you on my blog. I would consider it an honor. Thank you. Donna

tuffy777 said...

thanx, Donna (what's GFC?)

tuffy777 said...

nice blog -- I can't find any place to leave comments for you on your blog 8-(