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We were at my grandmother’s house. My father, mother, and I would travel there, in the mountains of gorgeous Missoula, Montana, every so often to visit her since the death of her husband, Peter Cornelius DeWit. The exterior of the home seemed strange, as if Carol had made renovations in a lonely spur of creativity. I don’t remember arriving, or even packing for the weekend. My mother and father had both been absent… I reminisced. I don’t recall my parents driving; I don’t recall seeing them at all. My mind was in a purging state; everything must go. I had only a recollection of the day, or days, prior to that moment.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I stepped through the doorway and was taken aback by the multitude of emotions in which I was enveloped. The first person caught in my view was my great-uncle Wiley. I attempted to rationalize why he may have been sitting on the couch there, why he was mindlessly watching the tele like nothing was wrong. It was surely a pleasant surprise to see him so alive and real. You see, Wiley passed away four years ago. I smiled and greeted him. He failed to acknowledge or recognize my presence, yet in the moment I was enamored by the possibility that he was truly there in front of me. Some moments later, I continued to tour the grounds that seemed so unfamiliar.
The kitchen was the next area to which I was drawn. The smell of pumpkin pie and french toast filled my soul; a magical sensation. My grandmother had slaved there all day, for I saw several dishes full of freshly baked goods. I walked on.
I found my mother in another room, sweating over an elliptical bike. Her blue spandex leggings matched the paint on the walls, and she was listening to her favorite Christian rock band. Gazing across the room, I noticed my father reading the novel For One More Day by author Mitch Albom. He was engrossed; nothing could tear him away. I felt so at peace.
As I exited the room, I decided to go to the garage. There, I found my late-grandfather in his soft, worn, grayish-blue robe. His back had arched with age and he was feeble, shaking and unsteady. In that moment, a door opened and slammed behind me. I turned my head to the direction in which both my father and mother stood, seemingly entranced. My body began to tremble and my heart raced with panic. My heartbeat ceased, and I was no longer.
My mind’s eye closed and my eyes finally opened; I was painfully aware of the defibrillator attached to my chest. I saw the shadow of a man over me, and heard a very distant order.
“Clear!” My chest leaped, my heart steadied. I didn’t know if I had passed or witnessed the Afterlife; perhaps both. I’d experienced, for a short while, life outside of life. As my eyes opened wider, I inhaled sharply and noticed my mother’s cry near me. She was desperate for me to live. To her relief and my dismay, my grandmother’s house disappeared and an all-white hospital room replaced it. I started to take in the depressing reality that my grandfather and uncle were still gone, my grandmother wasn’t in her home in Missoula but now resting in a Hospice.
I forced myself to escape. My mind was awake but my body was not… I woke up in my bed, a pool of sweat surrounding me. Was any of that real? I’ll never know.