The Heart Chronicles #7: Walking the Line

{Warning: you are about to travel through a twilight place I have been. If a believer in only the five senses or simply a born scoffer, turn back before it is too late!}

I am the sort of person who wants to know what is around the next corner, even if it is poorly illuminated and leads to destinations unknown. Curiosity has driven me forward all my life, come what may. So when heart disease encroached on my journey,  I was willing to have a lesson clarified once more: we walk a thin line between living and not living in this world.

Most of the time we aren’t so certain of that. Sometimes we even believe we are so firmly ensconced in this life that nothing could cause a serious or even fatal detour. There have been a few peculiar side trips for me so the life and death issue was not a new one. But it has been both troublesome and surprising. 

This is where I freely admit I have believed in God/Divine Love all my life, and have felt that this vehicle of flesh and bones is carrying us around for a purpose, at times unclear. I have thought often since my youth that we are eventually going back from whence we came and that, in the meantime, we are charged with living with mercy and fortitude, passion and hope– lofty stuff. But cultivating good humor greatly helps, as well as taking myself far less seriously as the years pass.  These are guiding forces in my life, and make travelling through this world go much better. 

So back to that cantankerous nuisance, heart disease. I went in for the second stent implant eighteen months after the first one due to a sudden return of symptoms. All went well in the OR as far as I knew–I was under anesthesia’s effects. Besides, I was busy with other experiences while others were engaged in theirs.

I recall I watched from the far side of a deep and rolling river. The opposite banks were packed with throngs of people who were waving, their mouths moving, faces bright enough to blind. They all spoke or sang–I couldn’t quite tell which it was from the distance–but I knew they  were tryng to communicate something to me, so I moved closer to the edge of voluminous water.  Although the river was mighty, it was the current seemed gentle, and I had the feeling that I could lean forward enough to just fall in and thus be carried over somehow.  No boats, no rafts awaited me so I stood an observed. The air was opalescent, but it felt like something more, an energized swath of translucence between myself and the others. I raised my hand in response at last. I knew where I was. It felt like home.

I now saw my parents step forward. Both of them were joyous–until my mother’s eyes caught mine across the distance. Her face came into clearer focus and I was filled with happiness.

A frown creased her smooth, radiant skin as she spoke clearly. “What are you doing here now?”

I took a small step, then paused. It wasn’t what I thought she would say. The river, the people, the silvery light faded.

“Cynthia! Don’t slip away! Sit up now!”

I struggled a second, then opened my eyes. My husband was jiggling me and I pulled away, closing my eyes again, seeking the faces of my parents and so many others who seemed familiar.  But it was too late.  I looked around the white and grey hospital room.

“I thought I was losing you there,” Marc said.

I pulled away and opened my eyes, irritated, wishing to see again who was on that riverbank.

“I’m okay. I was just watching…I was going to go…but mom didn’t think it was time.”

Marc took my hand firmly,  as though by holding it he could keep me in the room, in that body, in this most human life. And maybe he did, despite my deep longing to cross the border into that other place. I kept my eyes open to this world and sat up straight and got ready to heal again. Visons intermeshed with the drive of practicality had been the norm for my life.

But I know, you might be thinking: the river, the masses singing/speaking, her parents welcoming her? It must seem a bit much to some or sound too Sunday-school-lesson. But there it was. And for me, it was one more experience given for remembrance of the endless breadth of Spirit, and how we exist far beyond our great, heroically beating hearts, mended and or not.

There are small moments that remind me of the thin line. It might be the way the light flushes the sky with a tender beauty; the dense thundering of my heartbeat when I hear perfect music;  chance eye contact with a woman on the street who is weeping or a child who reaches with a smile in passing. It may be a sudden intuition, or the certainty of love in the midst of the often careless and mad century we live in. But I am taken out of myself. I forget my whims and desires. And then I think: I might have just stopped breathing in the snap of two fingers and not have had any more of this. 

 As I see it, I was given a bridge that day and I step upon it carefully, never forgetting. It is a thin line between this world and the next but for now, I have this life and it has me. There will be a time for more later.