Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chapter 10 - Dr. Wall Dies

July 1948

The July heat beat down as Solomon began the half-mile walk to the clinic. He had barely gotten started when Sarah appeared on the road in front of him. He smiled at her. She was always a welcome sight. I’ve got the most beautiful great-great grandmother on earth, he thought. “To what do I owe this honor, beautiful ghost?” He bowed chivalrously.

Sarah laughed, “I’ll bet old Mr. Cash thinks ye’re crazy a bowin’ to that old tree. He’s watchin’ ye.”

Solomon looked over his shoulder. Sure enough old Mr. Cash was watching and wondering why he was talking to himself like that. Solomon shrugged his shoulders, “Oops.”

Sarah fell in beside Solomon in his walk, “Dr. Wall detached from his body last night,” she said.

“What?” Solomon’s eyes widened.

“His family doesn’t know yet,” Sarah said. “Ye’ll have to call them when ye get to the clinic.”

“I knew this would happen,” he said, “but I’m not ready for it. What will happen to the patients that depend on the clinic for their medicine? What will the diabetics do? And the hypertensive patients...what will they all do?”

“Solomon,” Sarah said, “ye’re not to worry about that. Dr. Wall told me that ye have enough medicine to last more than a year. Ye’ll have a solution before ye run out. Trust me.”

Solomon looked seriously at her and asked, “Is Dr. Wall alright?”

“Aye, he’s alright,” she said. “He’s a wee bit confused. He’s meetin’ folks he was sure had gone to the fiery pits of hell,” she giggled. “By the way, Alice Hope won’t be takin’ her grandfather’s passing very well.”

Solomon knew that Sarah could remember the future as easily as she could remember the past. That was one of those mind-boggling things about the Light World that he hadn’t been able to wrap his brain around.

“Remember, I’m with ye,” she said as she disappeared.

Solomon trotted the rest of the way to the clinic. Its doors were always open, and he could hear patients talking in the waiting room. He opened the door to Dr. Wall’s bedroom. The old doctor looked as if he’d gone peacefully in his sleep. Solomon was thankful for that.

Dr. Wall’s face was gray. Solomon touched the cheek. It was cool and hard. He picked up the edge of the blanket and looked at the doctor’s body. He had maximum lividity on the underside. Solomon tried to move the doctor’s finger. It was frozen in place. Full-blown rigor mortis with lividity meant that the doctor had died ten to twelve hours ago…in the middle of the night.

Solomon passed the waiting room on the way to the dispensary. “I’ll be with you in a few minutes,” he told the patients. He didn’t want to say anything to them until he’d had a chance to call Alice Moriah.

She answered the phone, “Hello?”

“Miz Wells, this is Solomon,” he started, “I have some bad news.”

“Oh no, it’s my daddy, isn’t it? What’s happened to him?”

“He passed away in the night,” he said. “I found him a few minutes ago when I came in to work.”

She was quiet.

Solomon said, “I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you, Solomon. I’m just trying to figure out where to begin. I’ll be over there in a few minutes.”

“Okay, Miz Wells,” he said, “I’ll take care of the patients.” He hung up the phone and went into the waiting room. The patients looked at each other wondering what was going on. “I’ve got bad news,” he said. “Dr. Wall passed away last night.” They sat glumly. One cried quietly.

Solomon had seen several patients by the time Alice Hope burst through the back door. “Where is he?” She was frantic. She ran down the hall and into her grandfather’s bedroom. Solomon could hear her sobbing. He found her kneeling on the floor beside her grandfather.

“Alice Hope,” he said.

She turned around and sat on the floor. She leaned back against the bed. Solomon sat beside her. He put his arm around her and pulled her to his chest. She was inconsolable so he just held her.

“Why? Why?” she cried.

Alice Moriah stood in the doorway a minute. Alice Hope didn’t look up. Alice Moriah walked over to her father and touched him. Tears sparkled in her eyes. Then she went to his closet and started looking through his clothes. She’d need something to give to the funeral home. “I’ve called the funeral home in Black Fort,” she said.

“Okay,” Solomon responded. He still held on to Alice Hope. She whimpered occasionally. They all sat silently in the doctor’s bedroom. When the funeral home crew knocked at the back door, Alice Moriah got up to let them in and show them where her father was.

Solomon said, “Come on Alice Hope, we’ve got to get up. We’re in the way.”

She stood up with him, but she clung tighter to his chest. “Don’t let me go, please.”

“I won’t,” he said.

He held on to her as he walked her into the kitchen. He put his other arm around Alice Moriah and said, “Let’s stay in the kitchen. We’ll just be in the way back there.” Solomon wanted to spare them the sight of moving the doctor’s body. They didn’t need to see the purple lividity on the underside. They didn’t need to hear his joints crack. One of the doctor’s arms lay straight out on the bed. That shoulder joint would pop when the men forced it down beside the body. And Solomon could tell from the sickly sweet smell of death that the doctor’s bowels and bladder had released in the bed.

Like a robot, Solomon stripped the sheets off the doctor’s bed and put them in the washing machine. The clinic seemed so quiet. He sank into the dispensary’s overstuffed chair and put his head back. He shut his eyes. I wonder how it feels to die, he thought.

“It feels like a bird that’s finally set free of its cage,” Sarah said softly.

Solomon opened his eyes and looked around, “Sarah?”

“Aye, I’m here,” she answered as she materialized. “There’s na’ a moment of unconsciousness. Yer soul is conscious even if yer brain is in a coma. Dyin’ is like gettin’ outside the cage that held yer soul back from soarin’. Ye’ll love it when yer time comes.”

“When did Dr. Wall know he’d died?” Solomon asked.

Sarah giggled, “Ye ask strange questions, Solomon Sepaugh, Say Paw.” She mimicked the childhood ditty. “The doctor knew immediately. Consciousness is part of yer soul. Leavin’ the physical world and enterin’ the Light World is like walking from one room into another room. It’s that simple.”

“Can Dr. Wall appear to me like you do?” he asked her.

“No, he would need help,” she answered.

Solomon sat up straight in the chair. “What kind of help?” he asked.

“Ye could go into the transfiguration chamber and help him to materialize if ye wanted to.”

“How would I do that?” he asked.

“Ye do it the way Ma Patsy showed ye. Ye concentrate yer psychic energy on the doctor. The mirror and the smoke are just tools. Yer concentration is what the doctor can use to make hisself visible...if ye wanted to.”

“Why wouldn’t I want to contact him? I might need to ask him about some medical condition.”

“Oh would ye now? And how long has it been since ye asked him about a medical condition?”

Solomon thought about it and smiled, “It’s been a while.”

“Aye, it’s been a while,” Sarah said.

“So not everybody in the Light World can show themselves like you do.” Solomon said.

“Merciful heavens, no,” she said, “strong healthy souls can do it, but souls that have some growin’ to do... well, they can’t do it without help.”

He still had so many questions, not only about his future and the clinic’s future, but about the afterlife, and the mysterious keys, and the Sign...whatever that was. He knew the answers were available, and he knew he was supposed to find them. He knew this as surely as he knew the sun would rise tomorrow. It was his destiny.

Copyright © 2008 by Robbin Renee Bridges
Coping with Grief through Afterlife Communication

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