It all happened so fast. Shortly before I died, a friend of mine said, “Why don’t you have a wake to see what it would be like when you’re gone?” I thought about it sincerely. I was only inspired to ask the question because several people I knew had passed from the breathing life. It’s not like I was inviting death to visit or anything. I was just curious as I watched people of all walks come to give honor to the deceased.
I’d considered mortality before when I look at the life I lead without children, without anyone to which I could pass my traditions and stories into the future. It took me several weeks before I concluded that I didn’t want to know what people thought of me. I officially opted out because nobody really wants to know how much they’ll be missed unless they didn’t plan on coming back, right?
A week later, I got sick. I went to sleep for a while. I’m not even sure what happened. I was, then I wasn’t. I tried to communicate with my husband but he couldn’t hear me. I didn’t understand. I spoke. I screamed. I tried to write to him. I watched as my friends showed up on my doorstep. I knew some of my beloveds were upset, but they buckled down to work as if their own lives depended on it.When I woke up, people I loved dearly were milling about my house. Many of them were packing up my personal belongings. Some of them were picking through my things, selecting items as mementos, while I stood in the middle of each room spinning in circles crying with grief.
There were times of visitation with my friends whom spoke tender words of compassion to my surviving spouse while hovering behind weeping eyes and choked words. I wanted to take away their pain. I wanted to wrap them into my arms, to offer them comfort as they’d done for me so often. But I couldn’t reach far enough out of myself. I was trapped in a place between planes.
While I witnessed the parade, I saw that people brought gifts, food, donations of all different kinds. I watched the place I lived become an empty shell. No decorations, no dinners cooking, no shower gel scenting the entire upstairs. I slept on the floor of my studio curled up in a small blanket-less cold ball on a smelly carpet. I tried to get comfortable, but there is no way when my life rejected me.
The next day all I could feel were spirits moving near me, but I paid them only enough notice to acknowledge they were there. I could hear the hushed tones of neighbors outside my window. I looked but I couldn’t see them. Everything took on a gray light as if gauze were filtering everything into uncomfortable dullness. I felt the press of others but I resisted their call. I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to make sure my beloved was well.
People I didn’t know walked into my house and started commenting about the bare walls. They expressed how they were going to change everything around to suit their taste. It was then I realized my beloved was no longer there.
With a tug that dropped me back from the window, I turned to face a tall man that looked familiar to me. He reached out his fingers beckoning me to follow. He smiled reassuringly but I held on to the breathing life. I looked out the window once more, turned back to the tall man, with a burst of courage, I took his hand. Then I wasn’t.