The screech of brakes momentarily stopped Sandra's heart. Instinctively, as only a mother can intuit, she knew something awful had happened to Warren. Letting slip the dish cloth from her shaking hands, not caring anymore about the chore, Sandra sprinted out of the kitchen. Her heart once more stopped for five long seconds when she saw the open front door. “Dad,” she called to her father, “where's Warren? Warren!” she yelled for her six-year-old son. He was mildly autistic and tended to wander off if unsupervised, which was hardly ever, but this afternoon she had left Warren in the care of her septuagenarian father, assuming he would be safe. Before she reached the door, her father said, “He's in the garden, Sandra. But don't worry; the gate's closed, dear.” Sandra nearly stumbled upon sighting the open gate which led straight to the busy road that ran in front of their modest two-bedroom council home. Warren was nowhere in sight. Behind her, Gavin stepped out of the house to follow his daughter. The old man was shocked to see the wide-open front gate. “Sandra,” he called out, “did you find Warren?” The old man was now beyond panic; not seeing Warren in the yard where he had last left him caused Gavin's breathing to increase with the onset of heart palpitations. “I'm checking the road, Dad,” Sandra yelled as she stepped out into the street. Her worst fears were realised when she saw her son slowly rise to his feet, mere meters away from the front bumper of a stationary panel van. A crowd had surrounded the scene. “Dear God!” Sandra gasped upon spotting the blood pouring from a deep gash on Warren's forehead. His left arm was bent at an unnatural angle, clearly broken. With a heartrending scream Sandra ran to Warren, reaching him just as he tumbled back to the ground. “Mama. Van bump Wallen,” he said before passing out. “Ma'am, ma'am. Please, let me put him in my van to take him to hospital,” someone said to a distraught Sandra. She looked up at the stranger, her brain making the connection that this was the driver who had knocked her son over. Before Sandra could fling recriminations and curses at him, he said, “He came out of nowhere, I swear!” Picking Warren up gingerly, Sandra said curtly, “Take us to the closest hospital,” not trusting herself to say anything more. Sandra felt she had buried her heart with her little boy. She stared at a framed photograph of Warren, tears streaming copiously down her cheeks. “How can I go on without you? You were the love of my life, Warren, my whole world,” she sobbed on the third night after his interment. Minutes later she fell asleep, only to wake to a warm glow in her room. “Mommy, I'm here, always. God loved me so much He wanted me with Him, but He told me my spirit will be with you forever.” Sandra stared in disbelief at the vision, convinced that she was dreaming. But then she felt Warren's small, soft, baby hand wiping away her tears, and with his touch, a profound sense of calm descended upon her. “Be happy for me, Mommy. I am whole now,” Warren said, smiling that special smile of his. He embraced Sandra in a comforting hug before slowly vanishing from her arms. As if her beloved, departed son's touch had healed her broken heart, Sandra's tears welled up anew. This time, they were ones of gratitude for the merciful miracle she had been granted. Six months later, Sandra sat beside Warren's grave, holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers she had lovingly created. Sandra gently replaced the wilted flowers in the graveside vase with the fresh arrangement. “Hi, beautiful boy,” she greeted Warren. “I feel your presence nearly all the time; I know you're no longer in pain. I've got news for you,” she added with a smile. “I'm getting married next week, and I'm pregnant. You were my special gift, Warren, and this new baby will learn all about you. I promise.” Sandra left the cemetery with dry eyes, her heart overflowing with immeasurable love and peace. Image: Courtesy of Nancy Herrendoerff
a daughter's humorous hope for a mom desperately missed OK, so first things first …of course Mom has Vidal Sassoon himself doing her hair and is looking fabulous! Mom met Nora Ephron at orientation and thought she was a cool chick. The two of them hitched a ride to the party with Ferdinand Porche in his 911. The excitement and grandeur was beyond words. Everyone was still buzzing about their Secret Santa gifts. Mom got a painting of a tree next to a cottage, all signs point to Thomas Kinkade. Soon after arriving Nora made a beeline for Helen Gurley Brown. "Are you seriously wearing nylons in heaven Helen?" Mom is definitely wearing "pantyhose" in heaven too, regardless of their extinction on earth. To the squish squash of rubbing thighs she approaches the ballroom in awe. Spotting an empty seat at Henry Hill's table, she goes for it. "This guy has to have great stories" Even in heaven, the scene is reminiscent of high school; the jocks sit at one table, the politicians, actors and musicians all with their respective cliques. The champagne flows. In one far corner Robert Bork, George McGovern and Arlen Spector can be heard having a spirited conversation about the recent election. Daniel Inouye is clearly the most excited. Ernest Borgnine and Larry Hagman haven't budged from the buffet. Sally Ride has clearly had one too many Tangtinis and is chasing Neil Armstrong around with mistletoe. Richard Dawson leads a rousing game of spin-the bottle. Phyllis Diller is thrilled to be the only woman this round. Andy Griffith, Jack Klugman & Sherman Helmsley don't seem to mind indulging the harmless fun until Zalman King takes things too far.James Herr stops by to offer some potato chips. Oh boy Mom, I know you're a sucker for a man in uniform but don't go stormin Norman yet, he just got there! And now, the moment Mom and everyone else in Heaven's Class of 2012 has been waiting for…Don Cornelius introduces Whitney Houston and Donna Summer! Let the party begin. Mommy could not walk for some time, now she grabs Robin Gibb and dances the night away. She never sits down and sings along to every song at the top of her lungs with boundless energy. Adam Yauch is teaching her to rap though she has no clue who he is. Davy Jones stands on a chair for a better view. Free from physical pain and mortal concerns everyone is smiling & laughing. At last, Etta James takes the stage and slows things down. Dick Clark presides over the big ball drop while the room counts down in unison. The Class of 2012 has graduated and the calendar begins again.
It was a small shop near the shore of Lake Erie where they still sold mostly knick-knacks, touristy items, and postcards. The postcards were for sale on a round wire rack that you could turn to pick the one that suited your fancy. Everyone in town knew about the postcard rack in that store because every year, two days before Christmas, you could buy a hand-written postcard from a dead relative. At first, the shopkeeper swore the few patrons to secrecy, but as things went in small towns, the secret soon spread as more than one person knew about the secret to the cards. My grandmother discovered this deal with the postcards the same year her Mack, my grandfather, died. Matthew was her husband for years, and his passing early in his life, at the age of sixty-four, caught him and her off guard. She had been practically a shut-in until the day she ventured out to that little shop. She couldn't bother to go into the town proper to purchase trinkets from the drug mart, so she thought she would try her luck at the lakeside shop. Never did she imagine buying a postcard that day. Something drew her to the rack, but she couldn't say what it was. She walked to it twice, stared at the cards in front of her, and not seeing anything that she fancied. She turned the rack three times before she saw a card that she knew was meant for her. Both Mack and she loved birds. Her love was the male Cardinal, while Mack's love was the male Bluejay. There on the rack, it may have been the last one, or the only one, she wasn't quite sure. To her, it didn't matter; what mattered was that that card was meant for her, and she knew it the moment she saw it—no question. She suddenly had a spring in her step and saw some glimmers of hope with the bright and merry season this year. As she brought the card to the shopkeeper, he commented on such a lovely card and how nice it was that she found the card she was looking for in all those cards on the rack. He put the card into a bag, especially for the card, and then bagged the rest of her other items separately. She drove home and wrapped the few trinkets she purchased but neglected to take the postcard out of the bag. It sat on the kitchen table in plain view. The following morning, she came for her tea and breakfast and saw the card on the kitchen table no longer in the bag. A pen lay across the picture of the Bluejay. Puzzled, she couldn't figure out if someone had come in during the night or if her eyes were fooling her. She poured her tea and then flipped over the card. To her amazement, a note was written declaring his undying love but asking her to live her life to the fullest without him. A tear fell down her cheek. Grandma read and re-read the card. She thought someone had played a huge and horrible prank on her. She became enraged. But after she realized no one had come by the house, she believed. She didn't dare tell anyone, fearing they wouldn't believe her. She rejoiced in her love postcard. When she returned to the shop, the rack didn't draw her attention this time. She couldn't figure it out. So she returned to that shop every day for the next year. And again, the rack beckoned to her on the eve of Christmas Eve. She had figured out the way it worked. That was the last year she got a card from the shop. Mack sent her one more note. Sharing that he missed their nights of sitting in the tv room watching Sonny Elliott together. Mostly, though, he missed her, her smell and touch. The following year, my mother went to that same shop because my grandmother, my dad's mom, shared with my mom that she needed to go to that shop and peruse the postcard rack on that specific day. My mother went, not knowing why, until she felt the rack calling to her. She turned it and found the card right for her. She brought it to the clerk. He asked, did someone tell you to come and purchase a postcard, or did you need one to send to someone? It was an odd question, but she answered that her mother-in-law suggested it. He smiled and put the card in a bag for her. Later that day, my mother cried a lot. Tears of joy fell from her eyes as she had a note from her mother. She couldn't believe her eyes. I suppose that my mother told two friends, who told two friends and so on and so on. The shop was tiny but always had plenty of postcards to replenish the rack. The shopkeeper couldn't wait to see who would come in the door next.
Grace moved from England to Montreal as a war bride in 1945 where she raised her 4 children. Melanie was the youngest daughter of 5. Melanie's oldest sister died during the Blitz of London. Melanie was given a diary when she was 8 years old. Every night before bed she wrote in her diary and she turned to it as if it were her best friend. Melanie describes in detail what life was like for her. When she was 17 years old she boarded a plane with her mother to return to Lullington Road in Dagenham England to visit her Gran and Grandad. This is where she met Tony, the boy next door. A boy Grace did not approve of. Melanie, quickly fell in love with Tony and by age 19 they were married. Tony and Melanie moved to Canada to start a family. They had a son and twin daughters. Melanie was diagnosed with breast cancer that spread to her brain and she passed away in 1999. She left behind a son of 16 and twin daughters aged 13. I am Melanie's youngest daughter. She had written nightly diary entries until she died. During the pandemic I began to read the diaries and the trauma of such profound loss spilled out of the pages and into my lap. Life's bitter grasp of grief that had been clenched around my throat after her passing began to loosen and I discovered who my mother was. I discovered the love story between my parents and the reason why my father never recovered when she died. How was he truly to live without her? During the pandemic I held the weight of her diaries on my lap like a thousand pounds of brick and decided it was time to heal from the trauma that had ruled my life! I created a blog and through the pandemic I was reunited with my mother who left me behind nearly 25 years ago.
April second 2020, Bryan, my beautiful boy, lost his fight with addiction by an accidental overdose. I lived through those five days of him in CCU, sitting every day at his bedside, but I still have a hard time grasping that it is real. Somewhere in the back of my head I know it happened, but I won't accept all of it. If I do, I will surely fall off the face of the earth. The autopsy would determine the actual cause of death was fentanyl intoxication. I wasn't there when Bryan overdosed. I was on vacation, and I am learning to forgive myself for going and that somehow if I was home, this wouldn't have happened. On that Friday, Bryan had gone to the park with his sister, brother, sister-in-law, and his nephew. They would recall that Bryan was in a great mood, playing with Nolan and running around. They said he was happy. But that's what's hard about anxiety and depression. People can't see what's in the inside and addicts are good at hiding their addiction. They were all to go bowling that night, but at the last minute, Bryan decided to stay back at the house. He told them all to have a good time. He was going to watch TV and go to bed early. They returned three hours later. The lights were all on. They comment to each other that it was weird that Bryan had left all the lights on. Even stranger was the fact that the front door was locked. Bre went downstairs to turn off the lights and when she turned to go upstairs, she heard Justin screaming. “Call 911! Call 911!” Bryan was slumped over on his bed, face down, with one foot on the floor. He was pale and had blood coming from his nose. There was vomit on the bed where he laid. “I knew he was gone when I was pounding on his chest,” Justin would later tell me when recounting how he gave him CPR until EMS showed up. When EMS arrived, they administered two doses of Narcan. They were able to restart his heart and get a faint pulse. He was rushed to the hospital where he was put on life support. The day that Bryan was brought in, the doctor told us that in his opinion, Bryan was brain dead, but he needed to run a series of tests to confirm his prognosis. For twenty-four hours, Bryan was put into cold therapy. This would allow his brain and body to heal at a faster rate. After forty-eight hours, they began to warm him and run tests. Bryan failed the response test. This meant even though he wasn't on any pain medications, he didn't respond to pain, light, or breathing stimuli. He also failed the apnea test, which was, when taken off the ventilator, he could not breathe on his own or keep his blood pressure up. Then they performed an EGG and CAT scan. He had slight brain activity and blood flow to the brain. Unfortunately, the part of the brain that regulates breathing, swallowing, blinking, basically anything that would allow Bryan to function, was completely dead from being without oxygen too long. The part that was receiving blood flow was memory, and was nothing that would matter for Bryan to come back to us. The doctors could not legally declare him brain dead and call a time of death. Wednesday morning, Bryan's kidneys shut down, he developed pneumonia in his right lung, and he could no longer maintain oxygen saturation above eighty percent. Gift of Life deemed him unable to donate. So at 2:45 p.m., I made a phone call and as a family we decided to end Bryan's suffering. I couldn't see through the tears, and I felt suffocated with my mask on. I rip off my mask and take his limp, swollen hand and rub it all over my face. I fold down the blanket and pull his gown over to the side and place my cheek against his chest and breath him in. Under all the antiseptic hospital smells, I can recognize my child's scent. It's a strong, warm, sweet musky smell, and I inhale it as if it is a life source to me. It actually is. At three p.m., the doctor came in and explained what was going to happen. I listened to every word, nodding as she spoke, but inside I am screaming, Don't let this be happening! She turned off all medications. His vitals started slowing down within seconds. Oh God he's really dying! I laid my head on his chest to hear his heartbeat for the very last time. The respiratory doctor announced that she was turning off his ventilator. No, don't leave me! But Bryan did leave me at 3:45pm that day. Every sound, every smell, every second of that afternoon is forever etched into my memory. Goodbye, my Beautiful Boy. I love you and I'll see you when I see you.
Excitability God and Jesus, the meaning of filial love or the hatred souls between father and son. It is not always easy to see the entirely connection between the two unreasonable individuals. It's easy to get confused. Of what the massive argument has that both of them have just a suggestion by the intersubjectivity of their own philosophy. By saying that the heredity has been disabled them from the Scripture and the compassionate relationship has been written by furious thinkers. Some believers perceive that among these individuals there is a claim being unknown by their own definition of God and Jesus. As we can consider them as father and son cannot be made up and misused of their own claim with much justification we should. There is no difference if I am aware, you that the connective element on the linguistic sense links to that definition whose function can be related to the conceptual transition from son to father or father to son, or what foreseers have said and sped up like a production of chickens, bring a sense of distorting representation. In the death of Jesus, during nine hours in that position of torture, we heard him cried out in an aloud voice, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!" With these sentences it makes me say, “How crude God has been! At the same time, I objected that cruelty is the transition of our duality and the question that assume so painful toward a son's love, as well as the punishment if a son has disobeyed some kind of rules could not be broken. Since I was very small, however, it had strained me. I cannot help feeling that this was God's implication for humans' justification. An ordinary, illogical process to tell us that there is a clear message to us. Which one if there was one? It goes almost without saying that if there was one, just one — ascending from Jesus' pain, then regarding the human implications of Jesus calling for help is indeed inhumane. Yet, I am still unable to see the reason of God's unanswered motive. It's crushing me as if I am an old car over unpaved roads. A stream filled with pins and wastes. An unreal world that is based only by the great commission of uncertainty. I defend my decision as a biblical student as well as a sociologist, reacting as I believe it does not have any reason why God had forsaken Jesus. It could be for his own glory? For his personal gain? Was there a hidden attitude toward Jesus' sole reality? If it did not, why really was the reason?
I was utterly shocked after reading the report that I had received then, and suddenly fear engulfed me; my hands started shaking, I began to shiver, and the World around me froze.Initially, my mind stopped me from opening it; I waited for my wife to open it for me instead. Yes, I was tested Covid Positive on August 20, 2020. I was not ready for the mental harassment and faced the ugly society. Many thoughts started to enter into my mind, and with little space to think precisely, I have already thought of misery, pain, suffering that was about to come. There were zero cases in our locality, and I was the first person to be reported as Covid positive at my branch as well. I used to work for a reputed bank. I rechecked our financials and discussed the same with my wife if I do not live to see another day. Also, the society we are part of didn't sympathize with a Covid Positive patient. I tried to consult a doctor who was not ready to see me or even talk to me over the phone. I requested him, but he asked me to call Municipal Corporation authorities and no further suggestions. While returning home after the humiliation from the doctor, I received a call from my office to join a con call; they were aware that I was unwell, and as I was on leave from August 17, 2020, they could have skipped my name, but I was asked to be in the call, adding more misery, my head was distressing, and I was feeling breathless. After reaching home, I called up the concerned authorities; they suggested self-quarantine and asked me to continue taking the medicines I was already taking and disconnected the call. I was surprised and shocked by the answer. Also, to our surprise, they showed after 9 days, and a wave of fear spread in the locality. People started to think that it was my 1st day of quarantine; however, it was the 9th day. The moment to remember was my son's monthly birthday that I celebrate every month, so I asked my parents and sister to celebrate this moment with him. Even while in pain, we all made him feel special on the day. He was happy, he asked me why we all were crying, and no one had the answer for his sweet little question. So we did it, and I got little motivation. I am happy to celebrate his 40th month birthday this month. Sometimes, a reason to smile is more significant in Life to live it with happiness. I wanted to live with the moment. I was stepping into the unknown, and it was not easy. Sometimes we need to be reminded of what we already have and trust that it is worth fighting for; I have amazing people around, and that's what is enough to fight to live another day. My wife served me the food, tasted delicious, and enjoyed every bite as if it were my last. The minister of Yama was already on his way to fetch me to the heavens. I said to my wife, "I don't want to die." Hearing this, she hugged me and said, "Don't worry we are in this together, and nothing will happen to you, I will not let anything happen to you, just stay calm." We both were crying and trying to be strong. We had a big reason to worry as there was a substantial single-day spike in the positive cases on that day. That night I couldn't sleep, it was 1.30 am, and I started to suffocate in my own thoughts. I imagined my death, and every time it was different. I started to search out for memories with my parents, siblings, friends, wife, and most of all, my son. I wanted him to hold my hand and take me along somewhere. I was crying for hours, and the ocean of tears in me was not empty. I am weeping now while mentioning it here as I remember every single bit of it. My wife was sleeping in the other room. I wanted to hug her for the last time, but I could not do so and kept staring at her from a distance with the hope that it is not the last time. I wanted to tell her that I loved her a lot, kiss her feel the warmth for the last time. She was looking breathtakingly startling while in sleep—the hair strands on her luminous face were something. I wished that if ever I had a time machine to go back one day—so many wishes to fulfill, so many people to meet up and celebrate life with. I lingered in the small World of four walls that were created by my mind and heart. I tried to write a simple letter on the roof to the mind, "Dear Mind, Please Stop Thinking, Stop Thinking of Death." I realized that day, "Life has its ways of turning things upside down, hit you hard when you least expect it. It will test your resolve to the last bit of spirit in you. It makes you question everything around you and take you for granted. But sometimes it's a good thing, it's the best way to move onwards and upwards." Today we live in a society that is always ready to play the blame game. Pandemic adds more spice to it, and people neglect the facts and accept the myths. Life is pleasant, and we should live it with the correct mindset. We all need to embrace Life's primary purpose: living, as Life is full of surprises and unpredictability.
You see the title. You're thinking, it's about 2020. That's been the worst year for everyone. No, not me. My worst year was 2019. One sunny day in 2018, I got off the school bus. I walked through the double doors of my middle school. It was my normal routine. I would go to English class, I would sit next to my friends, it would be...normal. I was walking up the stairs when one of my friends ran up next to me. I'd known her since kindergarten, we'd grown distant ever since we got to a new school. She tapped my shoulder, she said to me, "Hey, did you hear? Maddie got diagnosed with cancer." Maddie was one of my best friend's little sisters. I'd known her since she was 6, maybe even younger. This news was a punch in my gut. Not even that. It was like getting hit by a train. As all children do, I still had hope. That's what keeps us going. Hope. It's why kids can recover more easily from disease and injury than adults can. We believe. My naïve mind was not able to comprehend that, a little more than a year later, I would be at her funeral. I saw her go from a bubbly child who loved to play soccer and practice gymnastics to a kid who rarely left her room. I went to their house for a project once. I remember seeing this girl sitting at the kitchen island doing her homework. I remember thinking, what happened? I believe this was also the moment in which any meager belief I had in God finally disappeared. How could any higher being do this to a child? Give a child rhabdomyosarcoma? An extremely rare disease, I saw it destroy her. We had to leave school early for the funeral. We, being our small class of 5. We left our seats in Spanish, we walked down the stairs, we left the building with our bags around our shoulders, and got in our parents' cars. I vowed to myself not to cry. I hadn't seen her in awhile. We hadn't been best friends in the first place. The church was only a mile or so down the road from our school. Purple balloons floated above the sign. Purple was her favorite color. I was wearing my dress with a white top and a black skirt. I couldn't fit into it now if I tried. We walked inside. A long line around the space, winding around the pews. And at the front, an open coffin. Gods, I even cry now thinking about it. I saw so many people I recognized, some whom I hadn't even realized knew her. I saw my school principal. I saw my teachers from elementary school. A few assorted people from school whom I hadn't realized would leave for this. The line grew shorter, I got closer to the front of the church. And then I was at the front. Staring down at her pale face. Holding a teddy bear. And I broke my promise. I didn't deserve to be crying, either. I hadn't lost a sister, a daughter, a cousin, a grandchild. I wish emotions worked that way. My star sign is the crab. I've always been too emotional for my own good. I kneeled down in front of the coffin. And when I had finished my words to her, I continued in the line. I hugged her dad. I hugged her mom. I hugged my best friend. And I kneeled down to hug her little sister. And as if my emotions hadn't already gotten the better of me, I had to sit back down and listen to the eulogy. Her father had given it. Her mom had tried, but couldn't go on. He talked about seeing her golden ponytail flying in the wind as she played soccer. That broke me down even more. Maybe it was selfish of me to wish it would end already. It almost definitely was. She was only eleven. She was in fifth grade. And her life was cut decades short. Maybe that was the beginning, the first seedling planted of my greatest fear: death itself. Life is too short. Spend time with your family and your friends. We don't have time to waste. Ever since that moment, I've wondered. When will my time come? I can't bear to die young. I certainly can't bear to die alone, or in a hospital bed with a breathing tube and an Ecmo machine. I will never forget my first funeral. My first time knowing someone one minute, and seeing them dead the next. I cherish life, at least, I try to. I say "I love you" to my parents whenever they leave the house, or whenever I hang up the phone on them, because I can't handle them dying without those being my last words to them. The worst year of my life was the year that a part of me died, along with Maddie.
“Today there are 60 more death cases and more than 1000 infected by Covid-19. There is also a shocking report of 10 people also fleeing from a hospital isolation ward, putting everyone at even greater risk. The number of infected numbers is rising every day, people's lack of awareness is considered to be the main culprit. The opposite party is questioning the government's measures to prevent the spreading of this global pandemic…..” The ear-blasting sound from TV broke Sofia's concentration who was trying very hard to complete her school project which is due tomorrow. “Do you want me to break the TV or what? Lower the volume, will you?” Sofia bellowed, irritation drowning her words. “I was just watching the updates, no need to lose voice with all that screaming, also making me deaf.” sassed her little brother from the living room. “Yeah, then watch it without fucking up with others” "This Corona is really messing with people's lives" Sofia muttered under her breath, concentrating back on her project. Corona is trying very hard to lock everyone up in their own personal jail. Trying to stop life in its tracks. But one can ever change a river's course just by throwing a rock on it, no matter how big. Like that it is impossible to put life on hold just because of some pandemic, especially in third world countries. Fortunately, the situation is not that severe in Sofia's locality. Sofia gave up on her project when the phone started ringing, the sound again breaking her focus just after the TV incident; she really has a short attention span. Looks like the universe doesn't want her to do it, so who is she to defy the universe. Giving up on her work she came to the kitchen to look for some snacks, she found her mother was on the phone with a gloomy look on her face there. “What is it, Mom?” asked Sofia worried when her mother put down the phone. “It was your uncle Hanif, Your aunt Nasima has been admitted into ICU, she is infected by Covid-19” Sofia is shell-shocked. Nasima is her paternal aunt; she has always been close with her, always looking up to her. She really can't believe her aunt is infected! It may sound weird but it's really hard for her to accept. Her aunt is a fitness freak and has always been as healthy as a horse. She is also very young, only in her late 20s. In fact, a few days ago she paid a visit to them. She seemed absolutely fine then how come she contracted this virus and her condition worsened so suddenly! Sofia couldn't wrap her head around this. There has to be some mistake! Dark clouds swamped Sofia's house, stealing every bit of rays of sunshine for the last few days. Tension is ever-present in the house like they are all put in a purgatory waiting for judgment. Her aunt's condition has worsened further, the doctors have given up hope and asked to be prepared for anything. Her dad is in constant a state of grief, even more so because he couldn't even see his sister for the last time as the lockdown was announced. Her mom is trying her best to console him. But honestly, how can you even console such a person! In all this Sofia is in a daze, everything is surreal to her. Only a few days ago everything was fine, how fast time changes no one can say! “Seeing is believing, but the feeling is the truth,” Tomas Fuller said. Only now Sofia understood its full meaning. Just seeing and experiencing, there is a whole level of difference. She saw people die on TV, even sympathized with them but never truly did she experience the devastation of a dying cause. Death, such a mystery! A person's past, present, future all lost in its claw. Death, the only sure thing in life yet we don't pay it much heed, too busy thinking about tomorrow, a tomorrow that we don't know if that will ever come! We plan our future but one touch from death smashes it in such a way that nothing is left. One would give up everything to escape death. Sofia really wants to understand this mystery, this Death.
I don't care about the dates and numbers anymore. They have less and less importance as I am growing older. Other things are becoming priorities. But I won't forget the day you left us. I will remember that date as long as there is a spark of sanity left in me. I miss you, Marcel. *** The more I get into the depth of your character and dive into the sea of kindness with which you abound, the harder for me is everything I have done to sin against you. Everything I denied you. Forgive me. Forgive me. It was a beautiful day last week. I think it was Friday. The sun warmed like no other day of the year. There was a pleasant wind, and the scents of flowers and sprouted grass rose from the ground. I thought I would pick fresh green grass for you as soon as it grew a little more. I thought I'd surprise you with this gift. But I will never give it to you, love, and that makes me feel like garbage. If I had known. If I had only sensed—if I had wanted to admit to myself!—you could have tasted the first grass of this spring, no matter how short and unripe its leaves were. But I was a coward and ran from reality! I stole from you the last touch of just-awakened nature, because not even the trees had fully bloomed yet. *** In Memoriam Marcel April 19, 2006–April 19, 2020 A World Without Color, the true story of our last three days together, still lives on Amazon as an eBook and paperback. Waiting for the world to read about you. BJ Original post: https://www.bernardjan.com/post/15-years-without-you
Today is the one-year anniversary of Dr. Wenliang Li's death. Commemorating the one-year anniversary of death is a somewhat absurd, funny, and selfish thing to do for those who are still alive. When I cried for Dr. Li, my tears are like those of a crocodile. It is how I memorize the suffering of my own and it only serves to satisfy my own needs for emotional venting. When I was crying, it was not Dr. Li that I cried about, but myself. Dr. Li is like a clockwork, which activates my long-neglected memory of what happened one year ago: how I cried myself to sleep every day while sitting in the home of prison and the only thing that connected me to the thousands of death happening around me was a wired computer and a phone. Life seemed so cruel and divided that it felt unreal. Now I am walking on the streets of Wuhan and it looks like nothing has changed. The city is as vibrant as it used to be. Humans are amazing creatures. Our brains are so prone to the oblivion of bad memories, and we never seem to learn. I think of Dr. Li's wife and his parents. I wonder if they are crying too and whether their tears come with hatred. They have every reason to hate this cruel world, the system, the government, and the virus. The world treats them unfairly, and we owe it to them. I dare not commemorate Dr. Li. I have no reason to commemorate Dr. Li, just like ants have no reason to commemorate the fall of an elephant. A cathartic cry is an excellent emotional outlet. Pain and anger are like a dose of adrenaline to me, making me feel alive and that I am more than a walking corpse. In the afternoon, I went to pick up my mother who is a dentist at Wuhan Central Hospital (where it all started). Surprisingly, I saw some flowers put at the front of the hospital gate. Since it is not “politically correct” to commemorate the death of Dr. Li (who was punished for speaking out the truth by the police during the early spread of the pandemic), the act of commemorating is only sporadically done by citizens who still “care”. There was a bunch of thin and lonely carnations sitting quietly at the corner. I imagine it comes from an old man who is not well-off. After struggling for a while in front of an expensive flower shop, he chose a beautifully packaged bunch of dying carnations. This was the best he could afford. The weather in Wuhan is particularly good today. There are signs of early spring. Clouds are dense and glowing in the sunset. “I saw some flowers at the gate of your hospital.” I told my mom. “Someone's making trouble?” She asked. "No! Today is the one-year anniversary of Dr. Li's death." To my surprise, my mother didn't seem to know. As Dr. Li's former colleague, my mom is among the luckier kind who didn't get infected. It seems nothing was done in her hospital to memorize Dr. Li. It is not surprising, since selective forgetting is always less painful than constant recalling, especially in Wuhan Central Hospital. “You make me want to cry, it seems just yesterday I saw him walking down the aisle with a patient...” My mother didn't continue talking, and of course, I didn't want to continue this topic. I didn't want to be a sorrow maker, nor did I have the ability to deal with other people's pains. “It's okay. I already cried this morning.” I said. My mother didn't cry. We were walking in silence for a while before I started the topic of what's for dinner today. In many people's lives, there are probably more realistic things to consider, and it is not a good choice to indulge in pain. Sometimes I feel very close to my mother, other times I feel very far away from her. As a doctor in Wuhan Central Hospital, she must have more reasons to be sad than me, but the sadness she perceives seems to contain less anger and hatred. Mine has a more unspeakably rebellious spirit in it. The funny thing is that I don't even know what I am fighting against. The government? The country? The system? What's my place to criticize anyone? I have laughed with many people and had fun with many people, but I have never cried with anyone. I cried once in front of my boyfriend and made a total fool of myself. Whenever I cry, it feels like life is taking off its candy wrap and presenting to me in its most naked self. I cherish those moments. My mom still feels very far away from me, just like I never know how much sadness she still has, how she feels about getting old, how much money she makes, how sore her waist is, how painful her legs are, or even how is her day. That's the day I know I will never be able to fully comprehend other people's pain. Not Dr. Li's pain, not his wife's pain, not my mom's pain. The COVID-19 pandemic created a common traumatic memory among all of us, the memory and pain we share are so similar yet so different. That's the day I caught a glimpse at the distant resemblance among human beings, the stranger around the corner, and the division of life.
It wasn't just a dark rose, it was the life of innocence, as each petal she clenched, fell to the ground. It was a life of hope, Hope that one day, her love might be enough. It wasn't just a dark rose, it was a broken heart, aching from the countless lies told, an aching heart, wondering how he could be so cold. It wasn't just a dark rose, as the bloody knife clattered on the ground, and the lovely red petals were engulfed in her blood. It really wasn't just a dark rose. It was her pain, it was her guilt, It was her suffering, But whilst she lived, a dark rose a day, and when she cried, she plucked a petal away. It wasn't just the dark roses, neither was it the pain when the last thing on her mind was his face, when the door closes. But all it was, was the love, of a no longer beating heart. A heart filled with innocence, and love for another, who without a doubt, is right now, With another. -BY RUTHIE DE GREAT ON THIS DAY-11/03/2021 NOTE FROM THE POET- I hope you Guys like the poem! tell me what you think about it in the comments!
I met a lady who shook hands with death and survived to tell the tale of her horror in the hands of a group of highway robbers. She narrowly escaped the afterlife with just scars to show for her near death experience. As she narrated her story which transpired when she was travelling to another state for her sister's wedding ceremony happening that weekend, I felt intrigued by her statement "At The Point Of Death, Nothing Else Matters". It made no sense to me why she would have such utterance on her lips, there are a lot of things that should run through our minds and hearts at such critical points in our lives but she insisted that it wasn't true and just a fictitious lie we tell ourselves to help us feel like we are not selfish not to care about everything we are living behind. She and others who were her co-occupants in the bus ran for 3 hours straight in a forest that was unknown to them. They were barefoot, their skin and clothes torn by sharp forest plants, their breathing raggard but low, making them speak in whispers and taking short breaths, least their assailants may hear them. She stood up and limped to the wash basin where she was to rinse the relaxer off her hair and I could feel the extent of the pain she was in but also her gratitude that she was alive to feel pain instead of lifeless in a coffin preparing for the journey of six feet and beyond. With a sigh, she kept narrating to the stylist and everyone who cared to listen to what happened next. They eventually arrived at a village after exiting the bushes and the villages gave them water to quench their thirst and seats to rest their exhausted bodies. When asked by the villagers what happened to them and why they were so many in the bushes, the only male who still had his shoes on because it was a sneakers volunteered to explain to them. They had gotten to a particular location that divided the two states and had met a slight hold up as buses weren't moving forward. Since they had to change lanes because of an accident that occured on the highway the night before, they were travelling on a narrow path that will lead them safely out of the accident zone and connect them to the nearest route to continue their journey, they didn't anticipate any incident and weren't prepared for the assault. Their saving grace was the quick thinking of the driver when he noticed that all the buses were empty and slammed on the brakes. He raised the alarm for everyone to alight and the sneakers guy who happened to be sitting close to the doors, pushed it open and everyone came down hurriedly. Noticing that their plan of attack may soon fail, the robbers jumped out of the bushes with cutlasses and guns and clubs ready to mutilate and kill as well as instill terror and pain on their unsuspecting victims. Immediately the ruckus started, everyone took off for their dear life amidst screams and sounds of scattered feets everywhere. That was when she tore her skin against a tree branch but barely noticed as she ran for dear life. Sighing very deeply, she told the stylist and her friends that she never once thought about her family, friends, work, money or fiancee because her whole being was channeled towards connecting with her maker on a personal level. She said, it was at the point where she thought her life was over that she knew nothing else mattered except herself and her maker. Even on the run, when death was staring at her in the face and she was unsure if she would even make it till nightfall, she was very sure that she owed those final moments to her supreme maker. In her word's "Forget all of these things we watch and preach to ourselves about how our last days will be because when the time comes, you will see and feel no one but his Almighty presence surrounding you". She didn't die that day and has the scars on her body and in her mind to remind her of it but she swears that the encounter radically changed her mindset. What bothers me is how true this is.. Being human means we have ties to this world, our families, friends, partners, businesses and vocations that we feel highly attached to and assume that we would be spared one last moment with all of them before we leave this earth. Unfortunately we are ultimately selfish during our last moment, seeking reconciliation and peace with the supreme being, asking for mercy and forgiveness upon our eering souls and praying to be granted eternal rest. In the end, nothing else matters but You and Your Maker.
I lay on the hospital bed, while the cold wind buffets against the door, and the trees outside the back window shake so violently I can hear the branches crack through the thick pane of glass. But it's not the storm outside that is keeping me awake. It's the storm inside. The thought, the regrets, the memories. Francesco is still lying unconscious on the bed next to mine. And you're dead Zacharia; you, my best friend, are dead, and there's nothing I can do to bring you back. How could it happen? How could they murder you, right in front of my eyes? Why would they? Just because you were black? And, as I listen to the soothing bleeps and clicks of the hospital's machinery, it all comes back; all the memories. Sharp as the moonlit blade, overturning the morphine's dizziness. It started as a normal Saturday evening out with friends. We picked you up right after your long shift at the restaurant ended. You enjoyed working there. “It's my art,” you always said, smiling. “I can prepare a Heaven-worthy meal for the mortals”. And it also helped make ends meet for your family. “Next week it's my mother's birthday!” you said as soon as you got in the car. There was a certain glint in your eyes, the shiny energy of a million stars. “This time I want to impress her. It's her 50th birthday.” Francesco floored the accelerator, and the old Citrus jumped to life, letting out an unimpressive roar. “What do you want to buy her?” He asked. “I still don't know. I've been putting away all my savings for the last eight months. It has to be memorable, you know? We couldn't afford a decent present for the last five years.” “What about a robot vacuum cleaner?” I suggested. Bracing, cold air rushed in from the cracked windows, mussing up my hair, making me feel unstoppable. God, if I only knew. “It could be a nice idea. I'll talk about that to my sister.” And we dropped that conversation there. We were chatting and walking along via Pia to reach our favorite Pub when we heard the tires screech on the road, the loud thump of doors closing violently, some incomprehensible shouts. And then they were there before we could even make a move. “Il Branco” (The pack) as they are known in the city. All four of them, all bigger than us, all trained fighters. “Where are you going, rats?” They wanted to take revenge on Francesco for not paying them the money they had asked. One of them pushed him against a corner and started punching him. That's when you intervened. You threw your skinny body between those punches and your friend to defend him from getting mauled by those animals. And then you became their prey. They were raging with anger; incapable of grasping the strength and nobility of your soul. How dared a black son of immigrants stands in the way of four white, “strong”, Italian men? I could see the fury in their eyes, their deep desire to make other people suffer, and it was so inhumane that I felt completely terrified. The first punch landed on my face, throwing me to the ground. For a moment it felt like I was flying, and then – before I'd ever fallen – I vomited. The pavement was strangely warm to the touch, almost like a blanket, and for a bit, I couldn't think of anything else but the pain radiating from my head -- and then, the numbness spread all over my body as one of them repeatedly kicked me. Later on, the cops will ask me how much time I remained there, laying on the pavement, and I won't be able to answer them. All I know is that I was still on the ground, crouched in the fetal position when I heard it: your last cry. It was terrible. The physical pain was replaced by something far more raw. An agonizing sound that pulled at my insides, scarring my soul with sharp glass shards, making me want to stop existing. I stood up swaying, while the world around me pulsed slowly, like a giant heart. Shouts and screams filled the summer air, increasing the pain in my concussed head. As I staggered and stumbled over the pavement, barely avoiding another punch, I saw you. And I saw blood. You were in a pool of blood, unconscious, the clothes ripped off your tiny frame. I almost blacked out then. All I remember is the expression of pain in your eyes – the faith you had in humanity shattered by a pack of monsters. And I can't tell if I imagined it or not, but there was also a tiny glint of light and hope in those eyes, something unbreakable -- the last remainder of that million stars' energy. Maybe it was the light of someone who knows he lived and died as a hero. Thomas Edison's last words were: “It's very beautiful over there.” I don't know where it is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I'm sure it's beautiful. Note: I changed all the names for privacy concerns. As I finish writing this story, I can't stop crying. My keyboard is full of tears, but writing helped me unburden some of the pain. If you're looking at me, Zacharia, just know that I love you. Rest in peace, Angel. (20/10/1999–06/09/2020).
I opened my eyes at the insistent sound of my alarm. It was such an annoying sound, I hated waking up like that, but I had to, I needed to revise something for school and I couldn't ask my parents to wake up at 5.30am so that they could wake me up, right? It would be extremely selfish. Especially because the reason was not a real reason. I opened the window and the sun rays entered my room. I didn't even bother putting some clothes on, nobody would notice anyway. I know I'm lazy, but online school really brings out the worst part of you. I experienced it in my own skin. As usual from a month or two - I lost track of time, every day is just exactly like the one before - I sent a text to my best friend, Anna, asking her how she was. She had Covid-19 and she was at the hospital. I couldn't go visit her, but that was fine, we always FaceTimed each other, at least once a day. I revised history and at 7.30am I checked my phone: no answer. Maybe she was still sleeping. I turned on my computer and clicked on the link our Italian teacher sent us. Great, another Italian lesson where she won't stop talking. She's a good teacher but since we're in lockdown, she just goes on and on and on with our school program without ever stopping. It's April and she's already doing something we should do at the end of May. At 10am I check my phone again: still no answers. But I mean, wouldn't I sleep until 11am if I could? Most definitely yes. I had a 20 minutes break, so I decided to have breakfast. I can eat at any time and sometimes I just forget to do it in the morning: it's not healthy, but I still do it most of the days. I returned to my online lessons: I had history, the teacher was going to test some people. I wasn't even that anxious, I had my book just next to me, if I didn't remember anything, I could just look at it. But then, then something happened, something I could never even imagine that would happen. I received a call. Obviously, I did not answer for two reasons: I was at school and it was an unknown number. They called again 5 minutes later. And again 10 minutes later. The fourth time I left the zoom call, the history lesson, and answered. I would just say I had “internet issues”, it's not like they can know in any possible way. I heard a voice I did not recognize. Maybe a male? I wasn't sure. They said “Hi, is this Valentina?”. I answered affirmatively. It was probably just a call center, always calling at the right times of the day. “I need to give you bad news.” They said. Oh no, I didn't like how that was going. They hesitated. “Come on, just say it, this way you're making it worse.” I said. “Anna has passed away this morning. You were in her “favorite contacts” list, therefore I thought I should call you.” I froze. “Yes, great nightmare, now can I wake up?” I whispered to myself. “I'm really sorry.” They said. Wait, was that really happening? It couldn't be possible, Anna was 18, she was in good health. It must have been a nightmare, right? “What is happening?” I asked. “I'm sorry.” They said, and then they hung up. I looked around me: everything was in the right place with the right colors: it couldn't be a dream, it was too vivid. I fell on my knees, finally realizing it: Anna was dead because of a stupid virus. I was sure she was going to get better soon enough, I was so sure. How did that happen? I felt a tear rolling down my cheek. I couldn't move. I don't know how long I stayed in that position, I just know that my memories after that moment are very blurry. I remember my mother hugging me, I remember walking upstairs and laying on the bed. I remember crying until I passed out. The next thing I remember is going to her funeral. No, it had to be a nightmare. Just let me wake up.
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