In my mid twenties my great grandfather was in a car accident. Thanks to the miracles of modern science they were able to keep him alive on life support. So I got unto the car with K and drove to Chattanooga for what I knew was good bye.
When I got there the room was filled with family in various stages of distress. The monitors beeped and pinged. The breathing machine sighed mechanically. It was hard to see him there. He was such an integral part of my early life.
There were so many good memories. In the mornings before elementary school I would sometimes walk to his house for breakfast and afterward catch the bus. On these mornings my great grandmother would make biscuits from scratch and the ritual would start. I would stare at the pan greedily waiting for it to cool enough to take my prize “The Middle Biscuit”! And always just before I could get it my great grandfather would swoop in and fight me for it. We argued and fussed. Both of us stating our case for why we deserved the best biscuit, ” The Middle Biscuit”! I always won. Yep, I was that good. I was grown before I realized this was play so to me it was a debate to the death.
Some Saturdays we would sit in the den watching wrestling and placing bets of pennies or promised hugs and kisses on our chosen champion while we ate corn bread and pinto beans from our TV trays.
What I liked most was the sense of conspiracy and camaraderie we shared. He was my buddy.
His house was cool and dark filled with the accumulated belongings of a lifetime. There were doors closed to children and quiet. One item I remember distinctly was a picture of Jesus standing at a closed door fist raised to rap. I would just stand and stare willing the door to open and see what happened next.
I had just been trained in a Japanese healing technique called Reiki. With no illusions of miracles, with only the intent of giving comfort I stood at the end if his bed. I placed my hands on the tops of his feet which were under the covers.
All at once I was alone in the hospital room. It was very quiet and very bright. I looked up from my hands and saw two figures on either side of my great grandfather’s bed. I could not distinguish features because the light emanating from them was so bright it was hard to look at them for long. Just then my grandfather sat up in bed and I gasped.
We greeted one another. He begins to tell me how much he loved me. He said he had lived a long life and was at peace and ready to go. He gestured to his beside companions who just stood there exuding authority and love. He looked around as if he could see the family members in the room and shook his head. “They are holding on to me so tightly, but I can not stay much longer. I know it is hard to believe this but just so when I am gone you will not doubt your sanity, I will tell you a secret. Despite everyone’s best efforts my body will die 3 days from now.”
I blinked and all the sounds came rushing in around me. I took my hands from his feet and placed them over my heart. I was overcome with emotion. I slowly back up to the wall and slumped to the floor crying. “Bless her heart.” someone said. They had no idea.
Three days later I got the call. I have stood at the door many times in my life. The birth of my daughter. The death of many a patient. And I am still standing there curious to see what is on the other side. My philosophy tells me that it will be dark and quiet there. I will have dissolved and finally achieved the union I seek in life. But I will not have the awareness to witness it. My atoms will rejoin the swirl of existence.