(Footprints in the sand at La Jolla Shores look suspiciously like those of FJ Dagg) Good Evening, For those of you helping with the countdown, this is story number 13 of the 24 I have sworn to post since Thanksgiving. F.J. Dagg has finally found the woman of his dreams…but is it too late? Here …
(Footprints in the sand at La Jolla Shores look suspiciously like those of FJ Dagg)
For those of you helping with the countdown, this is story number 13 of the 24 I have sworn to post since Thanksgiving.
F.J. Dagg has finally found the woman of his dreams…but is it too late? Here is his final entry into The First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage Contest.
In the Bittersweet By-and-By
by F.J. Dagg
I was unlucky in love–but, with the regret that attends one’s later years, there is the solace of resignation. While my twenties and thirties had their agonies of disappointment–as much my fault as anyone’s–and my forties, attenuated versions of the same, my fifties and sixties were blessed with a deepening serenity only slightly colored by melancholy. Somewhere along the way, I’d sworn I’d never suffer for love again.
In those later years, being a realist–at least in acknowledging my mortality–I diverted energy once devoted to seeking my other half toward a study of such authors as Moody, Myers, and Alexander, and their accounts of near-death experiences, alleged communication with the departed, and the possibility of an afterlife.
I reasoned that if death is personality’s annihilation, as our secular age holds, then, in the end, it wouldn’t matter. But if there is something after our mortal existence, why not attempt to prepare? What I read offered hope, the consensus, in part, being that the world to come is infinitely variable, and shaped by affinities and expectations formed during life.
As it turns out, Moody and the others are right. “…created mankind in His Image,” refers not to the flesh, but to consciousness, free will, and creativity, and after my death–and a fair bit of atonement–I found myself in a place that fulfilled my heart’s desire almost entirely.
I lived, as it were, at the edge of a seaside village that much resembled La Jolla, California, a town in which I’d spent much of my life, and had dearly loved, but which circumstances forced me to abandon. My days were filled with things I’d loved in life: music, surfing, birding, reading, meditation, friends, good friends… Paradise found.
And yet there was a haunting–emptiness–that came into sharp relief one autumn afternoon as I walked in the woods atop the cliffs north of town. A marine layer approached in fast-gliding shoals of vapor, so that the beach and the high surf far below were alternately bathed in light and plunged into shadow, an impression echoed by the sunlight through the sparse canopy of the woods.
This celestial La Jolla is thinly populated, so I was surprised to come upon a figure standing at the cliff’s edge, gazing seaward. Even at a distance, a sense of familiarity struck me, though I felt certain I’d not seen the young woman before.
“Enjoying the view?” I asked as I drew near.
She started at my voice and was clearly not pleased at my intrusion. She was about twenty, slender, with wavy, honey-blonde hair that fell past her shoulders. She wore an unseasonable white summer dress, and sandals.
The sense of familiarity deepened. A part of me wanted to walk on, but something held me there, so I lingered, awkward. The silence lengthened and I decided to go, but as I stepped away, she spoke.
“I… Can you tell me where I am, please?”
Her voice surprised me, low and dark, at odds with her blonde youthfulness, and it was to me as the sirens to Ulysses.
She faced me and I noticed that her eyes brimmed with tears. I saw too, or thought I did, a long filament, like spider silk, or a silver hair among the blonde, trailing off from her head to seaward.
“It may be La Jolla,” I replied. “Or, it may be Heaven.”
At “Heaven,” she drew a sharp breath and turned back to the sea.
Souls are more perceptive here than on earth, and the dismay that surged from her struck me like a great, cold winter wave. Without thinking, I offered my hand.
“Come. I know someone who can help you.”
She hesitated, but then took my hand. I led her down toward the village. I did indeed know someone, an old soul, who would know how to relieve her distress.
Her name was Jennifer and as we descended the slope from the cliffs to the town, we shared some words. Among the things I learned was that she had been born the day I died. More than words, though, passed between us, and by the time we reached the Cove, I recognized her. She was the One–the other half for whom I had waited all my earthly life.
As we entered the village, the marine layer came ashore–a great, foggy cliff that blotted out the sun and reduced our sight to mere yards. The temperature plunged and Jennifer shivered in her thin summer dress. I knew, though, that her tremor had to do with more than the chill sea air. She clutched my arm and turned toward the thunder of the invisible surf.
The fog swirled and shifted until a scene coalesced before us, hovering: A hospital room, a young woman in the bed, slender and honey-blonde, still and pale as death, surrounded by bowed shadows.
An older woman’s face came into view, distraught. She clung to the girl’s hand, crying, “Jenny, oh dear God, Jenny, come back, come back to me, I can’t let you go, oh God, my Jenny…” endlessly. Others there cried and called to Jenny, and to God, a dark, heartbreaking chorus.
I saw again the silver filament, now stretching from Jennifer to the pale form in the bed. She looked at me, then at the desperately weeping woman below and began to cry, too.
“I can’t stay!” she sobbed. “Try to forgive me…and them…”
She threw her arms around me and kissed me as I had never been kissed–and then I was alone in the fog.
Time, as it is here, passes, and I remember, and wait. I’ve learned that we die from this world to yet another, as we die from mortal life to this, so I cannot say I have “all the time in the world” to wait for Jenny.
But it’s not too late to hope that we’ll meet again. I swear, it’s not too late.
Branch 92 Books
The Lowlands of Heaven on Amazon: Amazon: http://amzn.to/lyi526
The feathers of angels make the best writing quills, I suppose. I swear it’s not too late to order his award-winning novel from Amazon in time for Christmas.