Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sagan and Druyan: Together in the Cosmos

Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan’s wife, wrote this in 2003 after Carl had died. I find it enormously honest and inspirational.

"When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me-it still sometimes happens-and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous-not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance. . . . That pure chance could be so generous and so kind. . . . That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time. . . . That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful. . . . The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful."

If there ever were to be atheist "churches", I would hope that they might be built around sentiments such as this. Simple acknowledgment of the brevity and preciousness of life, and the role that random chance plays in all of our happiness.


  1. Beautiful. They understood the real meaning of eternity. They were together "forever."

  2. To see a world in a grain of sand,
    And a heaven in a wild flower,
    Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
    And eternity in an hour...

    Wm Blake (not an atheist, but you could read him that way)