I recently watched the end of Steven Spielberg’s 2001 movie, Artificial Intelligence, which I haven’t seen since its release. The time is the 22nd century. Monica and Henry have a child, Martin, who has an incurable disease, so he is placed in suspended animation in the hope that a cure will be found.
In the meantime, Monica and Henry obtain an android, David, a new type of robot that is programmed to love.
Monica is leery but comes to care for him. Then a cure is found for Martin. Sibling rivalry ensues. Except David is not a real sibling. David is abandoned with his robot Teddy. Eventually he and Teddy end up under the sea that covers Manhattan.
An ice age spreads over the planet and 2000 years pass. Highly advanced robots find David and to their delight discover that he has memories of humans. From reading his memories they replicate his home. All he wants is time with his mother. The androids can bring her back. But there is a condition. She can stay for only one day. Is David prepared to be with her only one more day?
Yes! What a beautiful day, from the moment he walks into her room and awakens her with the offer of a cup of her favourite coffee, to playing hide and seek together with Teddy. For David it was a special day –just he and his mom. Fun and games. And her undivided attention. And then comes bedtime.
And David tucks his mother in. She tells him how odd it is; she should tuck him in but she is so tired. As she closes her eyes, she puts her arm around him, pulls him close and says, “I love you David, I have always loved you.” That is all he ever wanted. To hear his mother say those words. And he heard them because he was able to spend just one more day with her. David lies down beside her, holds her hand and closes his eyes.
When my father was dying, I was with him each day. He had gone into a coma and the doctors said it would be a day or two. My father lived another week. And I mean lived. He was in his coma but he was experiencing something because his eyes were moving as if he was reading a book or watching a movie. One of the nurses suggested that he had work to do before leaving this earth. Perhaps it was soul-searching. Each night I would say “It’s OK dad, you can go I’ll take care of Mom.” But then, something would overcome me and I would run back and say, but just wait for me to see you one more day.
My mother went into the hospital with difficulty breathing. She was well enough to complain to me of the discomfort she was feeling lying down on the gurney! Ornery — a good sign. It never occurred to me that her illness was fatal. She was admitted on a Monday afternoon and by 6PM Tuesday she stopped breathing. I had been with her the whole day and then the night and all the next day. I held her as she was dying. I would have liked just one more day.
There are three pilgrimage festivals in the Jewish faith. During the centuries of the Temple in Jerusalem the people would gather at the Temple where the presence of God was most keenly felt. Two of the pilgrimages take place in the early spring and summer, and the third in the fall which brings in the Jewish New Year.
The Feast of the Tabernacles, which today many Jewish people celebrate by living in temporary structures for seven days, comes at the end of a month of Holy days. It is the last in-gathering of the people until spring. It is told that in Temple times when it was time for the people to go home, something happened. God couldn’t bear to let his people leave nor could He bear to leave them. They won’t be together like this again until the late spring. His love for them is so great He says to them, “Stay with me, just one more day.” After all that time together, it isn’t enough. Love always wants more.
The feelings God has for His people are the same feelings we have for those we love who are ill, whose death is in sight, whose time is short and precious; a daughter for a mother, a husband for a wife, a parent for a child. “Please, just stay with me one more day.”
“Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”
Originally published in Huffington Post