Love always brings difficulties, that is true, but it also brings energy. ~ Vincent Van Gogh
“Do you think somewhere out there two kids are looking at the stars in our direction? You know, like, we could wave and if they had super vision they could see us?” Sandra asked.
Pondering this for a while, I imagined two beings sitting on the edge of an orange desert, with purple skin and a gentle intelligence beyond our own. I stood and started waving, yelling “Hey! If you are out there we want to know about time travel, like in the book A Wrinkle in Time!”
We both started to giggle but an instant later our laughter was met with my father yelling from his bedroom window, “Be quiet, God damn it Kimberly, or I will come out there!”
Sandra and I looked at each other stifling full-blown laughter. My dad always yelled and never did anything; it was my mother we were afraid of. While trying not to laugh I snorted loudly, which made it even harder to keep quiet. After we could finally look at each other again without bursting we lay back down on the blanket spread across the lawn to resume marveling at the night sky.
Looking straight into the sky without the hint of a question, as if bestowing a mere fact upon me, Sandra stated, “There are many worlds like ours and when we are ready to move on from here we go to the one that is next for us.”
“Do you think we will go together, to the same planet or world?” I asked.
There was a long pause before she replied. “Probably not at the same time, but maybe the same planet. We can meet each other there and watch the stars from a different view and wonder if two kids are looking our way.”
At this thought we both giggled again.
Quite seriously I said, “Okay, but let’s promise not to leave each other. I wouldn’t want to go to another planet without you.”
She hastily promised as we both spied the first shooting star, brief and fleeting across the night sky.
“Let’s tell our wishes at the end?”
“Let’s not tell just in case they won’t come true,” she replied.
“We can take turns wishing on each shooting star. There might be only one wish per star. If we wished on the same star at the same time it might cancel both wishes,” I added, to which Sandra nodded in agreement.
We lay silently, anticipating our respective turns to make wishes.
My first wish was that Sandra had her leg back and didn’t have the ‘phantom pains’ anymore; the second was to see my grandmother who lived so far away; the third was for a new skateboard, the bright blue one with the red wheels; and the fourth, and last wish, was that Billy Blowers liked me too. As we climbed into the tent well after midnight, Sandra told me about a girl she had known that had recently died of brain cancer.
We began our séance promptly, hoping to summon her spirit before it left into the beauty of the night sky. Sitting face-to-face, knees touching, I began repeating softly the “ohhhmmm” sound in reverence, while Sandra called for the girl’s spirit to visit us or give us a sign she could hear us. At that very moment, a police or ambulance siren screamed through the neighborhood; she let us know she was among us. We told her ‘safe travels,’ and ‘sorry she was leaving so soon.’
I had anticipated more. I thought she would reveal herself in a translucent shimmering beauty beyond my mind’s ability to fully comprehend, something never seen before. I wanted to speak with her, to ask her what was it like to shed her body and leave it behind? Was she scared? Did she know where she was going?
In my sleeping bag that night I asked ‘God’ if I could be taken and give Sandra back her leg. Continuing, I counted all the things I could take with me if ‘God’ would allow it. I could give someone eyesight and take their blindness, another person an arm, someone a brain with no tumors, someone a heart, and my mother her hearing. I could take several diseases into my body and prevent much suffering I thought. I hated to see people or living things suffer. I knew even then we were, and are, all connected through feelings and thoughts, though time and life’s experiences would eventually mute that understanding.
Sandra died anyway. I couldn’t save her with my wishes. I couldn’t carry her pain and disease and give her life. It was my first true feeling of failure, of permanent loss. Now I see that pain and suffering are a part of life, it deepens the soul with its caverns of cracks. To take someone’s pain or suffering away is to take away the very thing which makes their life unique. There is a tragic beauty in life to which we each are given a share, some more than others.
P.S. I am still a star watcher. Every clear night, no matter the temperature. It comforts me to think Sandra is out there living on one of them planetary bodies. Often I remember our promise and wonder if she is still with me, hanging around, shaking her head at my failures and laughing at my humanness.