I looked back at my mom. So much had passed between us. I stood there dazed by memory overload, the good, the not so good, and the ugly. I closed my eyes and listened to her voice in song, trying desperately to regain my composure, trying to forget all the pain I had ever caused her, I was so sorry. When I reopened my eyes a minute or so later, I felt a little better, and realized that my mom had seen me. She was looking directly at me and was waving, beckoning me to come to her, and behind her the guests were rising from their chairs and they too began to wave. I began walking slowly towards her, and she towards me, the guest joining in behind her.
As I moved across the glade, I felt the unmistakable sensation of deja vu. I had done this before, not in real life, but in a dream I’d had nearly two year after my mom had passed away. In the dream we had met in the middle of a large park and she had held me and told me that she loved me. She instructed me to just let things go, that everything was okay. When I awoke the following morning things were better, much of the guilt I’d been carrying since her death had been lifted. I always believed that she’d come to me then to ease my pain. Now she’d returned to set me free.
We were perhaps twenty feet apart still moving towards each other when I took my first real look at the crowd behind her. I had been so enraptured by the sight of my mother that until now I had paid little attention to the others. I wasn’t at all surprised to see that the group was filled with familiar faces. I knew them all! A few steps behind my mom were my uncle Peter, Grandma Pepita, my cousins Janene and Sandra, Aunt Lucy and my grandpa Angel, who I had never met, standing beside her. Not far from them were my grandpa Leo and grandma Lula, my in-laws Shelby and Arlene, Uncle Barney, his boys and Tom walked beside them! Incredible! I continued scanning the crowd and saw my nino John Barrios, Chema, Al Pacheco and Frankie! Uncle Manuel, Phil Davis, Kathy and Brian. Beneath the soft shader of a mighty oak were my Aunt Natalie, Uncle Lupe and Phil Gomez. A few feet behind them was my uncle Lino standing tall and forever free of his wheel chair, even Bob and Mary Lloyd were there as were so many others. They were all there to greet me and they all seemed so happy to see me!
I was in tears as I fell into my mother’s arms. She held me tight, and comforted me, and told me everything was okay, just like in the dream. I tried to tell her how sorry I was, but she put a finger to my lips and told me to let it all go, that it didn’t matter any longer. It felt so right to feel her close to me, to know that she was there, to feel her love. I’d almost forgotten what a mother’s love felt like, it felt like heaven.
Moments later I was surrounded by family and friends, all crowding in around me, like some gigantic group hug, all eager to greet and welcome me. It was an incredible feeling, I was on fire inside! Never in my life had I experienced such heartfelt love and warmth, such joy and happiness. Only after I’d been greeted and hugged by everyone, did we begin walking back to the pavilion.
Hand in hand, my mother and I led the way. I felt so good, like a lost child who at long last is reunited with his family.
By the time we arrived back at the pavilion things were becoming clear. It was all beginning to make perfect sense. I watched as people made their way back to their tables, talking and laughing, so pleased that I had arrived. I realized then that I had not happened upon the road or the reception by chance, none of it was accidental. Everything I’d experienced thus far had been part of the plan, just part of the trip.
I was there because I’d been invited. It was my time, and this was my reception, I was the guest of honor. Everyone here, including my mom, were here because of the impact they’d had on my life. They were here for me, to make my transition easier. I knew then that my life long journey was complete, and at long last I was Home. Home to stay……
Ray awoke around 4AM, roused from her sleep by a disturbing dream. She lay in the dark for several minutes trying to make sense of it, when she suddenly realized how utterly quiet it was. She glanced over at her husband and found it strange that he wasn’t snoring. They’d gone out the night before and John had several glasses of wine, he always snored after he’d been drinking.
She reached over and laid her hand on his chest. She couldn’t feel his heart beat and he didn’t feel as warm as he usually did. She quickly turned on the light and moved closer to check him. He wasn’t breathing. She grabbed the phone and dialed 911.
When the paramedics arrived a short time later they found Ray in the bedroom. She had rolled John onto the floor and was administering CPR. One tech relieved her and continued CPR, while the other tech worked on John. He found no vitals, and John wasn’t breathing. He was in full cardiac arrest. The Techs quickly brought out the AED. (automatic external defibrillator) Four times they hit him with the electric charge and each time his body arched upward and seemed to shake for several moments. Yet there was no response. He was pronounced dead at 4:38…