January 23, 2013

                                       Why do we doubt ourselves?

     “It was the middle of the day and I was vacuuming,” Isabel said, sliding back into the smooth leather chair. Her brown eyes revealed a childlike honesty that lit with delight. “And out of nowhere,” she went on, “I could smell my Dad. I mean, I know he’s dead but it was totally his smell. I’m sure of it. And then, I felt him standing right there; I swear to god, he was right next to me."  Tears quivered at the edge of her lash before spilling over and she clasped her hands together swallowing her emotion. Sadness rested in her expression but in a hopeful tone she said, “Weird, right? Do you think it was him?”

     I can’t help but wonder why we don’t trust what we know? Do we question what we can’t see or what we are told is not possible? Why do we doubt ourselves?

     After my mother’s death in 1991, a year passed and I hadn't felt her presence,  dreamed of her or even caught a glimpse of her from the corner of my eye. I worried that all I’d come to accept and believe about the transition we call “death” may be wrong. The only presence I’d felt happened a week after her passing and now, a year later, I questioned it. Had I made it up?

      The car’s window was cracked just enough for cold gusts of January air to mingle with heat blowing at my feet. I found myself remembering the moments before my mother’s body gave up. Emotion drowned me in a waterless flood collapsing my airways. I sucked in oxygen heavy with sadness and loss. Suddenly, my car filled with a vibration that felt like electricity. A feeling that I instantly recognized as joy pounded through my body like an adrenaline rush. I couldn't keep the smile from my lips.

     My heart pumped in surprise and I felt my mother everywhere. “I’m free” she said in my mind. “I’m happy Nita. Don’t cry, because, I’m here.”

     But as fast as she came, she was gone again and I was alone. I knew what I’d felt was indeed my mother and my body had shaken with the experience of it yet, as time passed, I doubted.

     In the spring of 1992, a year and four months after my mother’s death, she came to me while I slept. I knew I wasn't dreaming, and yet my body was asleep. She appeared in my altered state as she’d been before she became ill with the cancer that defeated her. She looked ethereal, not a solid figure and had a bright shimmering light that seemed to embody her.  No words were spoken but I heard what she said.  “You see that I am fine. I am completing my life path on dream plane.”

     “What does that mean?” I asked.

     “It means that I am working with the people that I have unfinished business with in their dreams. Look,” she said, and pointed away. I followed where she indicated and saw a crowd of people, some I recognized and some I didn’t. “It is our choice,” she continued, “How we complete our life path and this is how I’m completing mine.”

     “What took you so long to come to me?” I asked. “ I've been waiting for you but you never came.”

“I’ve been busy” she said.

     “Can you tell me what death is like so I can explain it to others?”

“Death is like riding a bus. A lot of people get on, but everyone gets off at a different stop.”

     “I can’t tell people that. People won’t believe me.” I said feeling exasperated. “Can’t you tell me something better?”

     My mother didn't respond to that and I felt her serenity float between us. I changed tactics.

    “Was that really you in my car that day?” I asked.  And then something extraordinary happened. In my dream I saw myself lift swiftly upward, and in my bed where I slept, in the same moment it seemed my body lifted from the mattress. The electric energy that I’d experienced in my car that day, now saturated my body and I heard her say,

     “Never question yourself. Believe what you know.” I woke up just as air huffed against my neck and face as the sheet fell back to my chest.

      Several years passed before I ran into a previous co-worker of my mothers. His name was Al Choo. After we embraced Al said, “We miss your mom. I think about her often.” His skin carried a light tan of summer and his black hair, peppered with silver fell toward Asian eyes that glistened with tears. He said, “I never got to say good-bye to her. I had a dream about her though and she told me she was happy and told me good-bye.