I never got to accompany Jenny to church. She was dressed in a light blue summer dress and walking down the hallway to the front door when she stopped at a low table to pick up a stuffed dog toy lying there. It was then that I glimpsed a mirror hanging on the wall above the table. But Jenny didn’t look up enough for me to see anything but her waist and the stuffed dog in her hands. She stood silently for a moment, clutching the dog tightly and fingering the satin lining of its ears. Then, at the shrill burst of Laura’s voice from outside, demanding Jenny hurry up, she turned and ran outside. As she threw open the front door something strange happened. A burst of orange light assaulted me and I knew instantly it wasn’t the sun. The world in front of me disappeared and I heard the same whoosh of air I had heard when I left my hospital bed. The strange feeling of pressure returned and the air roared around me while the light permeated my brain. As I felt myself moving through the air and fighting against the tremendous pressure, I had one thought infiltrating the chaos: I never got to see Jenny’s face.
As I hurled through the thickness I felt nauseous and dizzy. Okay, I should be headed where I need to go now, I thought. I took a little detour and now I will be on the right road to the unearthly palace of souls. Just wait until I tell the others what happened! First person I meet in heaven will get to hear quite the story. ‘Hey, I’m Grey. Yep, yep, just arrived. Would I like a pair of angora hair slippers? Why yes I would. A Patargus Series No. 4 cigar and a tumbler of Middleton? Don’t mind if I do. And how did you end up here? Ahhh, wife killed you huh? Well I can hardly blame her what with the way you’ve let yourself go man.’ But maybe the first ‘person’ I will be talking to will be God. How would THAT go? I wasn’t ready to think about that. I was ready to get there and get on with exploring this new world. Now, I was assuming that I wouldn’t just hit a black hole and disappear. If my soul was living right now, surely there was some destination ahead. I started to get a little nervous that there wasn’t. What happened next surprised me even more than the first time. The dizzying whirl and roar abruptly ended and a scene instantly appeared before my eyes. (My eyes?) I think I took another detour. Damnit. I was looking at a huge bookshelf towering over me, filled to the edges with worn book spines lined up like siding on an old barn. My hand reached for a book two shelves above my head. Damnit, not my hand. I watched as a hand with hairy knuckles slowly pulled a two-inch thick book off the shelf carefully. My knuckles were definitely not hairy. The book came down in front of my view and I read the title before the cover was gently pulled back. Cultural Anthropological Analysis of Brazil’s Pua Tribe. Okay now I knew I must be in hell.