The End

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

I was sure this was it. I’d been expecting it and here it was. Finally. It had to come in-spite of all the global warming deniers and those right-wing nuts who can’t see the inherent damage fracking will do, plus the war mongers who want to spend and spend and spend building up a surplus of war machines and train innocent young people to sacrifice themselves as soldiers in some unauthorized invasion of a third world country.

At last reality and sanity have been pushed over the edge of the survival cliff. I knew it would happen. This had to be the end. I mean, really, how much more could the natural world take? The fragile ecology is being murdered, stripped bare, decimated by the ugly plundering of big companies. Is it any wonder the world is imploding in on itself?

I wanted to scream: I TOLD YOU SO. At least that was my thought the split second the sky went black. It was 9:03 a.m. and hot. Over 100 degrees yesterday and was headed there today. Until it got dark. Then the temperature went mild. Like it does after a summer rain storm in the New Mexico mountains.

The dark only lasted about a minute or so, which I suppose meant that if you were in a windowless room or in a corridor in the center of an office building, you wouldn’t even know the sun was gone. You couldn’t miss the next bit, though.

It was a like a lightning bolt that lit up the entire atmosphere in bright gold. It was too bright to look at. It glowed from everywhere. As if the light came from inside the room to meet the light outside. And the noise was like a trumpet sound that would hit the guys in the seats in the nosebleed section at the same time and with the same impact as the guys in the front row seats. Everyone heard every word. It was a sound that would wake the dead.

It was loud, but it was also a whisper that seeped down into my ears and jagged at my heart.

“Holy, Holy, Holy.”

I didn’t know who or what was holy. Wasn’t that like some religious thing that people in big old mausoleums of dead religions were always saying?  Maybe I was having a stroke. They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die and I was remembering things I’d done and said that I hadn’t thought of in years. I was seeing dead people, like Grandpa Joe and Aunt Lizzy and my buddy, Larry, who crashed off the pier when we were in tenth grade.

The sky was full of these flying men. They looked beautiful, like the statues of Greek Gods, and they were all saying the same thing,

“Bow down before the King of Kings.”

How could this be? Was the world really coming to an end because of some religious hype? All that stuff that my grandparents and that weird old guy down on the corner tried to tell me?

How could anyone really believe in a vindictive supreme being who liked giving kids cancer? Or who stood by and watched while Tsunamis destroyed entire countries?

I would not give in to this delusion, this hype, this fear mongering.

Why wouldn’t the flashes of my life stop? I was still breathing, so I wasn’t dead. I stood still in the middle of the room. A room that I like dark with heavy drapes. This light, this bright gold was everywhere. I couldn’t see shadows under the trees outside or under the carport next door. Just bright gold everywhere.

The noise of those voices and a rushing sound like thousands of bird wings kept on. My ears hurt and my heart felt pressure like it was trying to leave my body. A heart attack. That’s what this was.

I wiped the sweat out of my eyes. The sky was getting crowded. I swear I could see something like people of all sizes in long robes floating up from the ground.

I blinked. I was nine years old again and sitting next to Grandma in church. The guy down front was saying, “the dead in Christ shall rise first.”

It was like a door opened and truth came rushing out. For the first time in my life, I got it. God was real. He was pure and couldn’t look at selfishness or murder or anger or all the ways we try to hurt ourselves and others. He gave up his own son, Jesus, to handle all the mean, evil stuff in the world. All the things people had done, like mass murderers and despots who killed their own people, and babies slaughtered while still in the womb, I finally understood. God gave me a choice and I decided to be my own god. Most people I knew had decided to be their own god. The whole world was living with the end result.

What was this new feeling? Love? Flashes of blue light swirled around me. It was a pulsing thing that rubbed against my ears and made the hair on my arms stand up. If I’d had any hair left on my head, it would have stood up. My scalp vibrated.

What was the voice saying now? “I never knew you.” Just like that, the pulsing, swirling power around me floated away, as if I had a personal shield that kept the light and the love from moving through me. My heart lurched again and I knew the awful truth. I lived in the black, dark, selfish part of life and I had missed the light. I wouldn’t know the love. I had been dead to truth. Truth was dead to me.

The gold everywhere was being swallowed up by black waves of pain that lived in heavy dark clouds with a smell like a burning garbage pit. Black, ugly monsters flew through the air towards me.

“No!” I jerked and flung my arms up to fight against the black creatures. The thud when I hit the floor and the pain in my hip woke me. The night stand was on its side next to me and the digital clock was on the floor. I picked up the clock. 6:57 a.m.

Oh, my God. What a nightmare. I rubbed my sore hip and dragged myself off the floor. I shook my head, but it wouldn’t clear.

Jake. I tolerated him at work because he was good at the job. I hated the joy and love he always seemed to have. I never let him get any further when he’d offer to pray for me. Maybe it wasn’t too late. Maybe there was still time for me to get it right. Jake. Jake would know if God would still give me a chance. I moved to the heavy drapes and opened them to let in the morning light.

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Oral Surgery

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

She looked vulnerable. Her face as pale as her cream colored sweater, the gauze the dental assistant had placed in her mouth, in an effort to stem any blood from the holes where one rotted tooth and two broken off teeth had been, was half in her mouth, half pushing against her lower lip. It made her lips lopsided and puffed out. She seemed hazy, woozy, not alert; though she didn’t appear to be confused about where she was and who I was. They had her in a wheelchair in the hallway beyond the alcove with the surgery table. She was hunched over, more so than usual, and when she spoke, the garbled sound startled me.

My memory’s veil parted to inject reality with jumbled scenes of hospitals and pharmacies and doctor trips that litter weeks and months of calendars. Loss of weight fading into frailty; acquiescence to the inevitable; slipping away from activity to bed days; from determination to make her favorite foods to barely swallowing; from moving through slow paced days, dressed in clean and matching clothes with hair coiffed, to no longer giving me repeated instructions on how to launder the clothes. Well, that last part might not be so bad.

As I came closer, she removed the soiled gauze for a new piece and spoke clearly. What a relief. The curtain to full-time caregiving closed. I breathed again and felt my insides relax. Hold your horses, imagination; we’re not down that road yet. So it appears. Thank God.

She was groggy all the way home, even though she spoke clearly and appeared aware of her surroundings. Appearances can be deceiving, don’t you know. Later she asked me about the trip home. Did we stop at the pharmacy? Yes. Did she remember we stopped at Armstrong Nursery since were right there on the same street? No. Did she remember we got her a slushy? No, she said as she looked at the slushy cup on the table in front of her.

“That was a breeze,” she kept saying. “Why did I worry so?”

“Yep. Getting knocked out is the best way to go,” I said, laying out her pain pill and antibiotic next to her water bottle.

She slept a lot the rest of that day. Spent several hours in the recliner with her feet elevated. Left the TV off. That’s a major difference for her, believe me.

There was something else that was gone, as well as those three teeth. In their place she had a lightness of spirit. Like looking at life refreshed, looking at life renewed, with clearer eyes, clearer vision, clearer joy.

The next morning her chin was purple. Just on the one side. Like an outside mark of what had gone on inside. Maybe life should be like that. A quick mark on the outside. A tale-tell hint that shouts,

Mother

Mother

“Hey, something has happened on my inside!”

Maybe solutions would be found faster. Maybe we’d make choices with care if the results appeared on our faces that soon. Maybe we’d face the truth head-on if we could see with that clarity. Maybe we’d see the signals for what they are. Danger. Road washed out ahead.

Maybe not.

Of course, the hints are there. Have been. They’re left by history, by all of mankind before us. Take poison and you’ll die. Treat yourself well and then treat others well and you’ll leave a legacy of care. It’s not difficult to understand. It’s not rocket science. It’s just hard. Hard to trust. Hard to believe. Hard to act. Hard to give.

That where Mother was. She found it hard to see through the unknown of oral surgery all the way to belief. When it was all finished, except for the bruising, she said, “God took care of me.”

He does. He puts up the signposts. He’s the one standing just beyond the fog of today. He’s offered help. He’s ready to give it.

I get that in my head. I want to get it in my heart. I want God to be my first go-to guy. I want to know I don’t need to see through the fog to be at peace. I’m asking for help here, God. Help me see through the unknowns, God. Help me reach out, God, all the way to you.