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November 27, 2023
"Mes de los Muertos"

After Life 31

By Sand Pilarski

Chapter Thirty-one: Moving On

Awestruck, Roj shut her spiritual eyes and let her soul tremble in the glory. "May I please talk with Desai about this?" she whispered.

"I am here," Desai told her, and she opened her eyes again to the rainy night and the graveyard.

"Desai, it was so beautiful -- like every gorgeous painting I ever saw, all the light and color and everything was alive ... and I'm not describing what I saw, I can't, I don't have words enough ... I could see it all at once, and then I couldn't figure out what I was seeing, so it was like not being able to see anything --"

"Like a newborn human infant," Desai shimmered.

Roj laughed. "No wonder they wail!" Looking around, she asked, "Where's Gerry? Back in the church?"

"She has moved on."

"What? Where? Wait, she told me that she had to stay with this world to 'help.' How many years has she been stuck here -- she remembers fleeing World War Two. Are you telling me that she's been left behind for all that time just so she could teach me about being in God? That's hardly fair, it almost seems ... no wonder she was impatient with me at times."

"Roj, Gerry had more to do with this world than your sudden understanding of the presence of the Most High. Not the least of which was learning how not to be so impatient. Take some moments to reflect. She said that she helped Joao cope with his grief over his death so that he himself could take his next step."

"Right," Roj agreed, thinking back over the conversation. "She gave him the chance to see what other people were going through -- kind of brought him out of himself. Huh. And together, they helped other people by praying for them, too, didn't they?" She squinted in the rain. "Shoot, that means that the other people's troubles -- gave Joao and Gerry the opportunity to help. That's a real mind-whipper, O Angel. Too bad we don't have a cafe to sit in and talk about this, because this rain is so much fun it makes me want to dance, and now is not the time for dancing, I don't think."

"Did you not just experience that everywhere is all around us? There is a small outdoor cafe in Greece that is closed at the present. Shall we?"

She shrugged. "Let's go."

They turned, and the walled stone street that protected the shops from the rich blue ocean glowed in the morning sun. "Nice," Roj commented. "Death has some real advantages, provided you know what you're doing."

"You are learning," the angel said. "People's troubles gave two souls a chance to grow spiritually, you were absolutely correct about that."

"Gerry's barnacles, or whatever they were, the memory of that poor black girl on that night in North Dakota got Gerry to recognize her bigotry -- the bigotry in her upbringing, anyway -- so that poor young woman's pain was a gift, in a way, to show an old insensitive ghost how misguided she was." Roj shook her head and looked at Desai. "I wish there was some way she could know how much her life helped Gerry."

"One day, you may be able to tell her."

"But then, I wouldn't have been there to see her if my mother hadn't been so ill. Wow, even viruses have a purpose, and it's not just to thin the herd and take out the weak ones ... Desai, what would I have done without Gerry to point out my flaws and my ignorance -- and she wouldn't have been here if her parents hadn't been fleeing Portugal to stay safe from the war. Wars have a purpose, too?"

Desai nodded. "All things do. Every second, every action reverberates throughout Creation."

"Puzzle pieces. Interconnected puzzle pieces, but in every direction, all at once. How do you figure it all out?"

"I don't. There are many mysteries in Creation."

"Mysteries -- I used to read mysteries and was always surprised at the end when they were solved."

"Fictional crime mysteries have nothing to do with mystery. Mystery is that which is unknowable in its totality."

Roj sighed without breath. "Fine. Every time I think I've got something figured out, the clouds part, and I see yet another set of stairs I have to climb. Is it always going to be like that?"

"Oh, I think not. Sometimes it might be hallways instead of stairs. Or doors. Or waterslides."

"Now you just think you're being funny."

"You are smiling, so perhaps it is."

"Perhaps I will think it funny in the future, but I can't see the future, so I can't say for sure." She folded her spectral arms.

"I shall continue to ignore sarcasm for the time being," Desai replied, looking amused.

"Okay, then, I need a strategy for Matt. Oh, crap, how much time has passed for him? Is he already out on the street and into more trouble?"

"No, time is different for us. He is still in the hospital, still being grouchy and obnoxious. His doctor and his nurses are confused and troubled by his refusal to speak with them. When they come into his room, he lies on his bed or sits in his chair and will not look at them, or answer most of their questions. I cannot tell why he is acting this way."

"Sounds to me like the love of my life is angry: angry at himself for not knowing he was being hunted down -- or by whom -- angry at himself for not protecting me enough -- but now I know that I needed to be killed to do some real change in this city and situation, even though he will never see that -- and more angry at himself for being played the drunk chump so easily taken out of the game."

"He had high expectations of himself."

"He did, of that there is no doubt. But now he has to get over what he sees as failure, and move on with his earthly life, just like Gerry and Joao moved on from their ghostly life. Just like I do, too."

"I believe that is the first time I have heard you admit that you have to leave."

"Well, I knew there was something hanging me up, but I thought it was me not wanting to leave, and that's part of it, I know, but there was something I needed to do, too. But after what I saw when Gerry told me about how God is present, well, I can't stay after I've done what I'm meant to do, it was too beautiful, and I want to go learn how to see it all ..." For a moment, Roj was lost again in wonder. "Now the question is, how do I get past that anger, or use it, maybe, to turn him around?"

Desai had no answer for her, and she understood that. He (?) was, after all, an angel, not a human. But Roj was human, and she more or less knew how humans think. And maybe she knew Matt better than any other human on the planet. But maybe not. Just as her own mother was grieving and missing her daughter, with whom she had spent so much of her life, maybe Matt's parents knew something about him that would assist her in reaching him.

She'd never got around to meeting his family -- they'd thought they had all the time in the world for that. She hadn't had any vacation time accrued to speak of, and Matt had been really busy chasing down meth dealers, trying to get a map of the pulse of operations. We were too involved with life to think about Death.

With a painful twitch of regret, Roj thought about the people who would have been her in-laws; Grandma and Grandpa Trapester to the kids she and Matt had wanted to have; his sister would have been Auntie -- Marianne, wasn't it? Marianne had been close enough to Matt to torment him with pranks from time to time even after they had left home, unlike Roj and Sheldon. I was going to attach myself to that family, and I don't know anything much about them. Okay, Matt, my dear, I'm going to stop playing vengeful lover and try my hand at playing detective, see if I can discover anything about you from your own blood.

"Desai, is it possible for you to tell me the whereabouts of Matt's mother, Virginia Trapester?"



"She is living with her daughter, Matt's sister, Marianne, in Hollister, California."

"Come on, Desai, I'm from icy semi-arctic North Dakota. I know where Bismarck is, and Fargo, and Thornton. In California, I know where San Francisco is and where I lived in Modesto. I think Hollister is over by the Bay Area, but I'd have to get a map. Could you open one of your clever doors and get me there? I'd like to see his family for a little while, get a glimpse of the Matt I never had a chance to meet."

"Certainly. Step just this way, Roj."

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2018-06-04
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
1 Reader Comments
Ralph Bland
05:48:27 PM
I am reminded of Hardy's "The Convergence of the Twain", or Jimmy Stewart's character in "It's A Wonderful Life". Without sadness or dire events or unpleasant moments nothing good would be allowed to come along, no flowers bloom, no circumstance set up for the entrance of love and happiness, without all precursors running their course and then moving on.
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