EXCERPT FROM THE LIGHT BETWEEN US
I WAS ON JERICHO TURNPIKE, heading west, when the messages started coming in.
I squeezed the wheel of my Honda Pilot and swerved right, pulling into a Staples parking lot. I hit the brakes and came to a stop halfway into a spot.
I wasn’t ready for them. Just a bit earlier I’d been taking deep breaths, trying to stay calm, because I was so nervous. Scared to death, really. Soon I would be in a room filled with suffering people. My role that evening was to try to ease their pain. My fear was that I would make it worse.
I was wearing a plain black shirt and black pants. I didn’t want anyone to be distracted by patterns on my shirt or flowers on my dress. I’d skipped dinner, because I was too anxious to eat. My husband, Garrett, wasn’t home from work yet, so I’d asked my mother to watch our
two young children until he got back. I was running late and I tried to make up some time on the busy road, but traffic was slow.
Then, suddenly, they started to come to me. The children. All at once, as a group, they were there. It was astonishing. It was like being alone in a room when suddenly the door opens and ten or fifteen people come in. You might not even see them or hear them, but still you know they’re there—you can feel them. You know you’re not alone anymore. That is what it felt like in my Honda Pilot—I knew I wasn’t alone.
Then came the words and names and stories and pleas and descriptions and images and all the things they wanted to share, so many I had to slow them down.
“Wait a second, wait a second,” I said aloud as I fumbled in my purse for my little red notepad and pen. I started writing as fast as I could, but I couldn’t keep up with all the messages I was getting. It was all just pouring out.
Tell them I am still here, one said. Tell them I am still part of their lives, said another. Tell them, “I love you and I see everything that goes on.” Please don’t cry for me. I’m okay. I am not dead. I am still your child. Don’t think of me as gone. I am not gone. Please tell them I’m not gone! I sat in my crookedly parked car outside Staples and kept scribbling—a woman surrounded by children no one else could see. . . .