In season 9 episode 19 of the TV show One Day at a Time titled "Meaning of Life," Dwayne F. Schneider dies... and then comes back to life. As a result of this horrific accident, Dwayne and others around him start question the meaning of life. Or rather, more specifically what comes after life.
The event hits Katherine, the oldest character on the show the hardest. As such, the following conversation occurs with her daughter.
Ann: Mom, there is so much we don't know about death, life, anything is possible.
Katherine: Well but see, when you start getting older. You start wondering about words like heaven and life ever after. You start wondering if they are just words.
Later in the show, Katherine speaks one on one with Dwayne.
Katherine: What is it, what is bothering you?
Dwayne: I'm a fraud Katherine.
Katherine: Wha... oh, come on. Come one.
Dwayne: I've been going around telling people that death is something wonderful. I don't know that. All I did was going floating up. I didn't go down the end of the tunnel.
Katherine: Was that important?
Dwayne: Yes it's important. I don't know where the hell I was. I mean, where was I. What did I do. Was I on my way to heaven? Was I in heaven? Did I see God? Was he the guy in the leisure suit? Came back without any answers.
Katherine: Well, see things aren't always that clear.
Dwayne: I use to be just another devil-may-care kind of guy. I didn't think about anything besides pipe fittings and full-figured women. Now I can't stop thinking about what happened to me. And I keep thinking that maybe if I've been dead just a few minutes longer I might have come back with some answers.
Katherine: A few minutes longer and you may not have come back at all. Oh, Dwayne, I know what you're going through. The same thing happened to me five years ago.
Dwayne: You died?
Katherine: No, no, no. No, my husband died. And it took me almost a year to just to accept the fact that he was gone. During that year, I was almost as dead as he was. You look for your answers, you may even find them. But while you're looking Dwayne, you have to go on living. I don't want you to just die like I did.
Dwayne: There has got to be a reason for me dying and coming back. That whole thing just can't be for nothing.
Katherine: But there is a reason, don't you see? You're helping see that maybe death isn't the end.
Dwayne: Oh well...
Katherine: That may seem like a very small accomplishment to you, but not to me. Dwayne... Dwayne, the closer I get to it. The more I think about... not being here anymore. Boy, I really was afraid of dying. I mean, I really was, and I still am just a little.
Dwayne: Don't be.
Katherine: Well I am.
Dwayne: Well don't be.
Dwayne: Because there is nothing to be afraid of.
Dwayne: Yes, really. Let me tell you something. See, the other side. The other side... is ahh... well, I'm not sure exactly what it is. But I know this. I was there. I was there and I... I felt it. Katherine it's real. It's real... I mean, no matter what it is, it's not nothing.
Katherine: Oh, I believe that.
Dwayne: And I'll tell you something else too. I did come back with an answer. I did. When I died, I left my body on the floor. I mean it was there on the floor. But I was still me. I didn't need it. I did not need it. So I guess the answer is, I'm not just this physical body. There is more to Dwayne F. Schneider than something to hang a tool belt on.
Like a few previous episodes of other shows--The Simpsons and Dilbet, One Day At A Time reviews the question after one of the main character dies--and like the other shows, resurrects the character form the dead. It is an interesting reoccurring theme.
Naturally, as we get older, we inevitably lose more and more of those close to us. This is life. Yet, it always goes on and unfortunately people don't resurrect. But we have to understand that we have this shared existence with everyone around us--here and now. Every second, two people from this shared existence die, and four new ones are brought into this world. What you do today, can affect twice as many people in the future.
So what do you think? Does death bring us new perspectives on life and its meaning?
If you like the site, help support us by purchasing the first season of One Day At A Time on Amazon.