Because I am not the religious zealot type, I do not hold some claim to special knowledge of the nature of God or anything of spiritual nature. The only exception to this is that my late boyfriend, Joe, has appeared to me a few times in dreams telling me that Heaven is a rather decent place. He spoke of it enthusiastically, saying I had to see it for myself, and said the food was “terrific.” To see that boyish smile on his face I knew so well, and his voice as if he were describing the highest point of a baseball game, convinces me that every meal every meal is truly delicious, served on the best dishes. Is there an afterlife? I’m going to butt out of it and stick to things that are a bit more concerning to me, but I do know that Joe right now is really doing okay. Is this is a delusion my inner mind has created to comfort me? I don’t care. Delusions, after all, are correct in the heart. Boy, have I learned this over the past couple of weeks and months. Maybe I have always known it. Maybe I should also add that I do like to think that there is a Doggy Heaven in my tears.
But this is all. I grew up Jewish. We were told there was a God. Sometimes, yeah, God. Sometimes, the existence of a God made no logical sense to me. It didn’t add up scientifically. It never, never, never made any sense to me to assume that God was male. This was a resentment that began in me as a sudden jolt when I was booted out of my brother Ned’s bris simply because I was a girl and not a boy. It made no logical sense in my six-year-old mind that a bunch of old guys wearing scarves would sing Holy songs in a language I didn’t understand to an invisible Holy Male God in the sky, and these old guys in scarves were crowded around the crib of my baby brother, whom I owned and was given by my parents so that I could personally protect and care for, and these guys–these men–in scarves were going to seriously harm my brother. Yes, I was only six, but I knew from that very moment on that the world was male-dominated. Especially in my given religion. So, like I said, I have, at this point in my life, no real right to make any real claims about the existence or non-existence of God as any entity or being whatsoever, or to instruct you as to what you should think in such matters.
However, I do know what I truly believe in my heart right here right now.
Tonight, I do not know what time, I noticed that I was developing a fever. It began kind of in my jaw area, and then spread around to my eye sockets, and then to every single tooth, and my entire mouth. My head had that all-around ache you get when you have a fever. My body had that bone-ache, but not a lot, not to the point of discomfort. I decided to have a bit of water, not a lot, and then head off to bed. Who knows. I had a flu shot. The flu, though, you can get anyway. On the other hand, it could have been some result of malnutrition. I often feel kind of weirdly sick. It comes and goes. Sometimes, I feel this overall crappiness and want nothing but to stay in bed. I headed off to the sack as quickly as possible.
I lay in bed. I found that I wasn’t all that tired. This sometimes happens. I had a lot on my mind. I have mentioned someone I fancy, in my craziness, hanging out here in my apartment that I have named Michael the Man with Wings, to whom I carry on a one-sided conversation at times. Well, I began one such lively conversation while I lay in bed. It went on and on. I began to laugh. It was getting hilarious. I imagined developing Compulsive Square-dancing Disorder temporarily, burning shitloads of calories, going to bed, waking up, and then weighing myself only to discover I’d lost a whole bunch of weight. I began to completely crack up. Then I settled into a deep satisfaction and warmth of feeling, a natural curve of smile on my face.
Then it hit me. I had a fever. Laughter. True joy like a rare gift I had not felt in a long time. Even an effortless smile. So many people would give anything to die like this. Laughing and with a smile, just simple joy. It could happen. I felt thankful that this moment had now come to me, almost like a gift. It could be a few hours, and I was very aware of the possibility that I could be way, way off base. But I felt close to prayer. Fever. Hot waves rose from my forehead, almost like I could see them, though my eyes at this point were closed, a smile still on my face. And I knew now that if I uttered a prayer, whether silent or aloud, I would ask God to take my life from me.
I began to weep. Just a bit at first. Then, sobbing. How can I do this? There are people I would hurt. I want to be in church on Sunday. It’s only Thursday night. Only today, I reached out to my college friends on Facebook. They wrote back. What am I doing?
Then I thought of one specific person who had written: my final semester advisor, Darrah. Dang. I had worked just so hard that last semester. I remembered all the hours at the library, toiling over my thesis. I remembered the trek to the post office, wondering if all those thesis pages would fit into a flat rate envelope. Every packet I received back was like a birthday gift I opened with the suspense I felt as if I were a little kid untying magic ribbon. Then I remembered: Darrah always called me “Kiddo.” That made me feel so wanted. Darrah, of all people…How on earth could I do this to Darrah?
I cried for a long time. Fleeting thoughts and emotions mixed with my tears and wrapped around and around me. Mostly, I was sad. I asked myself if everyone who was dying, in their knowledge of their own impending death, was saddened by it.
I felt something, a change just then, an urge in me, to kick off my blanket. I was still weeping, crying aloud. I was lifted, or rather, was helped to lift myself, from the bed, and stood. The fever was gone.
A bunch of hours have passed since then. I didn’t know what I was going to do with what had happened. I didn’t know if I would tell anyone. I didn’t know if I was going to record what happened, but then I decided that it needed to be told. I am telling you now. Maybe it all sounds like it was written by a very deluded soul in a feverish, starved state. This is in fact true. But it is written.
I thought I hadn’t prayed at all. But you know, I think that in fact, at that moment, I did. When God is in my heart, God is in my heart, right there. I was answered. I was put where I needed to be. Maybe not for much longer. Maybe just for a few more hours. But I didn’t die in bed. I’m one step closer to tomorrow, one bit nearer to staying right alongside those that care that I stay right here with them.
You can’t predict when you’re going to die. Some die with a smile on their face but most probably don’t. After all, it’s not scientifically likely. You’re not born smiling, or so they say. As to whether I smile in Heaven, like I said, I don’t really believe in any afterlife, and it’s not what I’m worried about right now. I guess I am thinking that I want to write one word after the other, keep on writing, and not write too much about God. Rather, I’d like to keep God very quietly and passionately in my heart.