Who Says I am Dead?

by Sarah Hill, SUNY Cortland, November 21, 2008

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“I did not realize for a long time that I was dead” (–Alice Walker).

It was not until I tried to shake the dream of my friends and family standing over me, hugging me with no embrace in return that I began to consider death as an option.
I could not hear anything for a long time except for a steady high-pitched tone, until a male voice said “Time of death 8:24 am.” Even then I still tried to wake up, still tried to pinch myself but it still did not hurt. I watch my skin pucker under the pressure between my fingertips and there is no pain, no feeling even, just the movement of skin.

As a child I used to have dreams that I could fly; it was the greatest sensation flying, to be floating above the world, just watching. I always woke up wishing I could do that for real. Well, I received my wish. I did not know how much I would miss walking. Oh, how I loved the sting of a hot sidewalk in the summer.

For a long time I just wander, not really having a single destination. I visit my family, my children, and my grandchildren. At my daughter’s house two-year-old Molly joyfully exclaims “Mommy Grandma is here!” and I can feel my daughter’s heart breaking. Molly follows me around the house showing me pictures, drawings and just talking to me. All the while her mother is following us: crying, yet watching.
“Grandma, come back on Tuesday for my party, okay?” Molly says, and then looks at her mom, “Mommy, Grandma’s invited, okay?”

By now my daughter is covered in tears, sleeves wet and nose running. “Mommy, don’t be sad, Grandma gets to fly now. Mommy, Grandma always wanted to fly.”

I came back for Molly’s third birthday party; we had a tea party. I tried to talk to my daughter, tried to answer her questions; I tried so very hard. I visited every day, then once a week. Molly didn’t see me at her fourth birthday party: I yelled and screamed and asked why. I cried and my heart broke again. Then I saw my husband, he had died 6 years before me, he had never met Molly.

“Who is that?”

“Her name is Molly”

“She is beautiful”

“She is our granddaughter”

“Time to go”

“Go where?”

“Go home; to go back”

The faint hum I have heard since that morning just before 8:24 am became louder and louder but this time it was a steady “beep… beep… beep…”

My daughter is standing above me, “Hi Mom” she smiles tears in her eyes “You gave us quite a scare”

“Where is Molly?”

“Molly who?” my daughter questions as I take in my visitors: my husband is standing in the corner, taller than I remember him. “Steven? Oh, Honey you were here all along” I say causing my daughter to collapse in tears. “Mom, Daddy’s dead, he has been dead for two years.” Her words don’t reach my thoughts before Steven floats above me, “It is not yet your time, I love you darling. You stay here a while longer, you meet Molly,” his words are so assuring and comforting I close my eyes. When I open them again he is gone, but I am not.

Sometimes I can feel him watching me, trying to talk to me. At Molly’s second birthday party Molly looks at me, “Grandma, where’s Grandpa?” all I can think to reply is “He’s around sweetheart.”

Molly is three today, she runs into the living room yelling, “Grandma! Grandma! Grandma! You were right! Grandpa is here! We had a tea party!” my heart melts as I hold her hand while I follow her around the house listening to their conversation. I feel as though I have been here before too.

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