I woke to the sound of birds singing, butterflies dancing around my face, and a blade of grass tickling my nose. This did not feel like the same place I had fallen asleep only a few hours ago, my stomach in a knot from worrying about financial difficulties. Was I dead? Maybe, but I didn't feel dead.
The last thing I could remember was getting out of bed and grabbing my car keys along with a can of beer for the road. I had decided to take a drive and try to fix my life, and suddenly a giant light blinded me and I heard the crunching of metal and then blacked out.
I pushed myself up from a lying position and had to adjust my eyes. Everything was so bright, and yet it was beautiful in a way I have never known before. The sky was bluer, the colors of the butterflies brighter, and I felt a great sense of peace wash over me for the first time in a long time.
This had to be heaven. Where else would a person feel so much peace and happiness in an instant, and where else would it be so beautiful? But, there were no pearly gates, no St. Peter standing guard, but a line of souls entering a beautiful garden and meeting with someone that appeared to be their lifelong friend. The people would walk into a huge building that appeared to glow, with large columns on the outside around the porch. There were invitingly large windows all around the building, making it open and bright, a place that perhaps I should go investigate. Was there an old friend there to greet me? Maybe.
I felt light on my feet and no sooner had I thought about joining the others in the courtyard and entering the building, then I was standing in the middle of the courtyard looking around. A young Native American woman approached me, smiling, and seeming to glow every bit as much as the building. She was ecstatic to see me and called me by name. We didn't seem to have to talk with words because the things we wanted to say flew into each other's minds the minute we thought them. She led me into the beautiful building, and once inside I was positioned in front of what appeared to be a giant computer, yet suddenly there was nobody else around except for me and the Native American woman who was being very encouraging.
I knew immediately what I was about to witness: the story of my life. I had not always been the best person in the world and had made some major mistakes, but I also never hurt anyone on purpose. The view of my life started from birth, and every time there was an incident where I had helped another person, or been good to someone, I felt a sense of great joy. There were also times when I did hurt others through my actions, and I felt the pain the person I had wronged must have felt. That made me sad, but the Native American woman whose name was Zelda never let me get bogged down but reminded me to learn a lesson.
When my life review was complete, and an understanding transpired between Zelda and myself as to the life lessons learned, we went outside to find my parents who had died in an automobile accident when I was very young. I saw them, and a tear of joy ran down my face. I ran over and held them, crying like a baby and feeling the joy promised on earth when you reconnect with your loved ones. My pets were there too, and my friend Judith who died when she was hit by a car in the sixth grade, my first boyfriend who overdosed, and all the people I had missed and loved in my lifetime.
I heard a shrill voice calling from the distance, yelling about how it was not time, that I had to go back and a big mistake had been made. I was in a panic as I saw my friends and relatives begin to grow more distant and Zelda's words were no longer available in my head. I put my hands to my eyes and prayed it was something that would pass, that a mistake had been made, and I was going to get to stay after all. I did not want to go back to earth, but, in a fleeting moment, I felt my soul get sucked back into my broken and shattered body. I was lying in a hospital bed and it felt as though my legs were both broken and I could feel the tenderness around the bandage on my head. Good, maybe I would die there and be able to go back home, back to where I was happy.
I heard a woman's voice, and it sounded like I imagined Zelda would sound if she had spoken in a voice. She told me to be patient, to finish the work that I knew I needed to finish and that then I could return home.
That incident happened when I was in my thirties, and I am almost seventy now. I have learned that there is always something more you can learn in life, someone who is worse off than you that you can help, and even those who are wealthy and appear happy need our help sometimes. I learned that death was not to be feared. Death is a reward for being able to come to this life and do the best you can, both in small deeds and large, and only God decides when we have done enough. I will be seventy-nine tomorrow, but I now thank God that I have had these days to fulfill my life's work.