My sister couldn’t bear to go in the viewing room and I wasn’t too excited about it, either. The girl was so young and had died so violently that we weren’t sure if we wanted to see.
I told her that we would peek our heads around the corner and then we could decide if it would be okay to go closer. I counted to three and we both looked, only to pull right back. The girl had no head, so they had replaced it with a styrofoam sphere and piled her own hair on top of it. Her right arm was a series of articulated dowels that hung out of the casket. I knew that I would never forget that moment and wished with all of my heart that I would (but at the same time, I hoped I remembered the feeling forever. I hoped I would always remember what it was like to feel so grotesquely alive).
In another dream the next night, something awful was happening in our mother’s house, but I didn’t know what. My sister asked if I would be her best friend. I hesitated and told her that I had no choice, that we would always be closer to each other than to anyone else and that we had a bond that couldn’t be broken. She broke into a sob and held me. “Tell me ANYTHING,” she cried, so I told her that I loved her very much.
She had been too scared to go upstairs to get her things, so we went together. On the way back to her room, we walked through the kitchen and between the stove and the refrigerator was a large gap with some chairs and some things on the floor. “I think my phone is over there,” I said, but my sister hesitated. I looked at the objects on the floor and didn’t see it. “Oh well.” Realising that I hadn’t seen him, my sister pointed it out.
“I think dad is dying in that chair,” she said. I looked back and he was right there, his spine bowed over itself sideways, head almost on the floor. After a pang of shock, I tried to shake him awake and straighten him out.
“Dad! Dad, no, wake up, no, it’ll be okay! Wake up!!”
I sat him up straight in the chair and he looked at me like he didn’t know where he was or who he was—or that he was anywhere or anyone at all.
My mom and my sister and I were all at a talent show that was about to begin. I had an intense experience that caused me to invite Jesus Christ into my heart and then wash a dish at a sink on the same wall as the stage, still shaken. My mom yelled at me for being so rude as to use a sink on the same wall as a stage ON THE NIGHT OF THE TALENT SHOW!! and I couldn’t handle it anymore; I did not want to be there at all and I grabbed my sister and we bounced.
We drove to the neighbourhood we lived in when we were very small and walked around a little bit. Everything was perfect and even better than I remembered; even my little sister’s hair was the way it used to be. I was totally overcome with emotion at the sight of each and every house and I couldn’t hide it; I was making all kinds of little noises of delight and my sister laughed because she felt the same way. I began to worry that if I ever came back it there was no chance it would feel so good ever again, but before I could say anything at all, my sister smiled and said “I think it’ll always be this way for us.”
There were dogs at one house and she remembered all of their names. I only knew Caramel, a giant brown weimaraner, who barked and barked and hopped the fence to keep us from going any further down the road. I am usually very scared of big, barking dogs, but my sister just laughed—”Okay, okay!!” she said and we turned around to walk back and I couldn’t be scared.
I dreamt that all of the children and I had to find my great-great something in his toolshed. He lived across the street (I have either been to this place once before or dreamt it up—who knows how many times I have been there in dreams? In sleep, I could not remember having been anywhere else) in our sub-division overgrown with gardens and love. I led the group (there were so many of us happy little children!) and suddenly became awash with serenity as I looked around me. So many garden pallets. My relative was just around the corner and incredibly beautiful flowers surrounded me, blooming in every perfect colour. I could cry even now. They were so close, I was so close to them, but I felt so little. “I am here,” I thought. “This is life. This is it.”
Is there a difference between serenity and void?
One of my great-uncles got into our house and my housemates had to kill him before he killed us. Alex took a rifle and shot off the back of his head. He staggered around; the boys grabbed him before he bled all over the place.
“Oh shit,” he said. “I didn’t get his face at all, did I?” They were really concerned about not ruining any parts of his body that would be visible in the casket. It didn’t seem weird at all to me that he would have an open-casket funeral. We’d done this before and they knew what they were doing. I remember feeling more alive than I did all those other times. I remember feeling more alive and more terrified than I have—even waking—in a very long while.
I took the gun. It was my dad’s and both of my parents lived downstairs. He was out of town, but he would know what to do. He slept in a twin bed that was very low to the ground; I slid the rifle under it. It stuck out on the barrel side, so I covered it with a book. He would notice it had been moved when he got back and know that we needed help. I made sure to turn off all of the lights—I could hear his voice in my head noticing the lights before the book. It would have been silly, a little bit childish, if I had left any of them on.
As I was walking back upstairs, Animaniacs started playing on a tv in a room that doesn’t exist. My mother stirred and walked into the kitchen. I thought I could stay very still and she wouldn’t notice me, but she looked right at me. “Oh I just LOVE it when you kids…” she started and I was filled with dread; more adrenaline and more shame was coursing through my body than ever before and my mother was about to lecture me in the kitchen. But no, instead she picked up a cracker off of the floor. “What do you call a cell phone with problems? Made in the ghetto!” she read. “These saltines with jokes printed on them are really pretty funny.”
I forced a laugh. My mom went back to bed and I went upstairs. The boys had already laid the body in Alex’s bed for the night. I asked him how everything went and he shrugged. “It was fine. He’ll be asleep any minute now.”
I dreamt that digital alarm clocks were really just eyelash scanners. That’s how they always know when to wake you up!
I slept on the hard ground in a basement in White Lake last night and, as I woke up in different positions, I realised that I could “face” different dreams in the space all around me depending upon how I fell asleep and moved around in my sleep.
A lot of the dreams didn’t make very much sense and I couldn’t remember them when I woke up, but death lurked outside the room and I was much happier floating through that world, fuzzy and poorly tuned, than living in one of such startling resolution and pain.
I dreamt once that I had died with many acquaintances and we all found ourselves on the beach of the afterlife. I wished to be deep in the ocean, and so I was. I had no need to breathe, but the pressure was stifling. All I could see was the sun filtering through sandy, lifeless water and it was too much for me. I needed only to suffer and it was gone—the sand and the pressure. There was only water and sun and dead friends.
I like to imagine there was also green sealife that I could walk through as if I weren’t touching it at all. There was not.
My mother had had surgery on her legs years before: a procedure in which an entire layer of cells were removed from the inner layers of her skin and converted to a double membrane. I remembered, right after she got home from the hospital, nuzzling my little ear to her leg only to hear her voice in a recorded warning about the healing process. I smiled to myself, wondering if the loop still played deep beneath her skin.
With my boyfriend and my sister watching, I lowered my ear to her knee and listened. The recording started with a happy giggle that I hadn’t heard in years. “Hello!” it continued, and went on to tell the strange consequences of healing. I don’t remember them well enough to try to write anything about them, but I smiled. I smiled so hard to hear my mother’s happy voice in her leg. It struck me that I should look up at everyone in the room.
“It’s still there! It’s still playing!!” I said. My mother looked sweet, but confused. My sister was disgusted. I couldn’t stop smiling. It made me so happy and I didn’t even want to cry.
I woke up as if my own accord had aligned with the machinations of my body and the universe. I was alone and okay.
I lay in my mother’s bed and fell asleep, lonely. Noah came to me in the dream: a spirit, an avatar. He reached through my body and touched me—the godhead, the consciousness—for no reason other than that it was there and I needed it to be touched. I had never felt more beautiful. I awoke to find him next to me in our bed in Ypsilanti, forty miles away.
My stepmom told me to watch him and said that he was not allowed to chase the wild dogs in the living room. My brother chased them anyway. I scooped him up into my arms and scolded him.
“No, it’s okay!” he said. “My mom always lets me!”
“You silly goose! Your mom just told me that you weren’t supposed to!”
“Oh.” He tried his best to look like he was interested in something else. I laughed and covered him in kisses.
He let me carry him around the house and we delighted without smiling at all of the things inside. I could feel the love emanating from him. He was so precious, so magical, in the way that only little kids could be. I knew that he would never grow out of his magic. Seconds later, I wondered if he would die before he got a chance. It occurred to me from a source beyond that he would be fine, and I knew it was true: assurance from a being who knew much more than I. The being smiled a radiant light into me and I smiled, too.