Life does not end just because you die.
This is the first thing Sera taught me when my own life reached its end on that fateful day in the fall of 1993.
And that we, as human beings, are not as important as we’d like to think in the grand scheme of things.
The world still turns. The rivers still flow. The sun still shines. The moon continues to orbit the earth. Life goes on. Our hearts have merely stopped beating, that’s all.
The first thing you should know about me is that I didn’t plan on dying. Mine was an accident, as most deaths usually are.
I didn’t want to die. I was only fourteen years old. When I grew up, I wanted to be a writer. Now I guess I’ll never know what I might have been.
That part still makes me mad sometimes-- not knowing.
Sera says it’s only natural, and that in time I’ll outgrow it.
My name was Sherrie. I say “was” because technically once our lives are over we’re supposed to shed our mortal names. I say “technically” because even though quite some time has passed on Earth, I still can’t get used to it. Sera is always reprimanding me about that. He says I can go by any name I want, and besides, Sherrie is such an ordinary name.
“Really, Sherrie,” he’s always saying to me, “I don’t know why you insist on clinging to things from that horrid life of yours.” It’s true; my life wasn’t so great. A lot of horrible things happened in the fourteen years I inhabited it.
But I can’t help it. I have a hard time letting go of things. Which is why Sera gets so frustrated with me sometimes.
“You’ll never be able to move on as long as you continue to cling to these things.” They’re words I hear Sera repeat, over and over again.
It’s not entirely my fault I can’t think of another name to go by. I’m used to Sherrie. It’s the name I grew up with.
Of course, I use the term “grew up” rather loosely.
Another thing Sera constantly nags me about is that I’ve still yet to shed my mortal form.
“I don’t know what it is you’re afraid of!” he often exclaims, exasperated. “You’ve gone through this at least a hundred times in lifetimes before. You say you regret not getting to live long enough, but yet you refuse to move on so that you may live again. Until you shed all this ‘Sherrie’ nonsense, you’ll never be able to be reborn.”
“I’m sorry,” I’ll apologize, repeatedly. “I can’t help it. I’m trying.” To which he will sigh and soften his tone.
“I know you are. But would you please mind hurrying it up a bit? Just because we have all eternity before us doesn’t mean that it should be wasted dawdling about the way you have been. Remember: If you don’t move on, I can’t move on.”
Sera always seems to have a way of making me feel guilty. But he can’t honestly blame me. After all, I didn’t ask for him to be my Guardian Angel.
“I was once like you,” he’ll continue. “Unable to move on. Unwilling. Reluctant to let go of the past.”
“I don’t see you shedding your mortal form,” I’ll point out to him. Which usually earns at least a small chuckle.
“That’s only because you haven’t obtained that state of existence yet. Until you are able to achieve a level of pure consciousness, I will continue to appear to you as I am. Besides, for the time being, I think that it will be more comfortable for the both of us if we continue to communicate in this way.” He voice suddenly turns very gentle. “Do try to understand, Sherrie. Losing sense of your former self is not the end of the world.”
I hate it when he puts it that way. Former Self. There’s such permanence to it. As if the person I am--or was--is already gone.
He’s right, of course.
Perhaps that is why I am so stubborn when it comes to changing things. My life was such a mess that I never truly appreciated what I had when I had it. Now that it’s not mine anymore, I hate the thought of leaving it behind.
I was nobody special. I could’ve been any girl you passed by on the street. I was born in a small Northern Californian town called Petty and I lived there until the day I died. I didn’t have very many friends, but the ones I had I wouldn’t have traded for the world.
First and foremost there was Eddie. I knew Eddie since we started school together. His mom, Polly, was my mom’s cousin. A couple times I went and stayed with them when things got bad at my house. Aunt Polly loathed my mom with a passion, but she was always nice to me. Eddie’s dad left them when he was little and never looked back twice, so he never knew him. That was one of the major things we had in common. I never got to know my real dad, either.
Eddie was short for his age, about five foot three inches, and he had long, shaggy brown hair, which always fell into his eyes. His mom was always nagging him to get a hair cut. He never listened. And I’m glad, because the hair constantly falling in his face was one of the things which made him Eddie. I used to tease him about it, and he’d get mad sometimes. I liked to say he looked like one of the Ramones. He didn’t even know who the Ramones were. I wouldn’t have, either, except that my Uncle John and I had watched their movie together once when I was little. Eddie wasn’t big on music, or movies, for that matter. Never mind reading. One of the things Eddie always bragged about was that he’d gone fourteen years and had never read an entire book in his life-- that wasn’t a comic book, that is. That’s where we were different. I loved to read and Eddie couldn’t stand it. I wanted to be a writer, and often spent my time dreaming up stories that I hoped to put down on paper one day. Eddie spent all his spare time watching cartoons and playing video games.
But we got along, Eddie and me. He’d always been there when I needed him. And his mom had often cared for me like she was my own mother, when my mom wouldn’t. I always liked being with their family. Even when Eddie was busy, or even if he wasn’t home, Aunt Polly would always invite me in and hang around until dinner. They didn’t have much, but it was enough. Their house was small white with pink trim, and the paint was pealing off. They rented it from an old man who lived up the street. Most of the time their house was a mess, but I didn’t mind. It gave a “lived-in” feel to it. Anyway, Aunt Polly worked full-time and didn’t have time to clean. She always found time to cook, though, and to garden. Theirs was a big backyard, and Aunt Polly always kept a garden growing in it. Sometimes I’d come over and help her. We’d plant things like tomatoes, squash, and sunflowers. Aunt Polly loved sunflowers.
I suppose you could say Eddie was my best friend. He took it hard when I died. He was the one who sat with me, after the accident. I didn’t die right away. And I guess, looking back at it now, that I knew I was dying. Eddie was the last person that I ever talked to on Earth. My own mother didn’t even bother to come to the hospital when the police called her. She didn’t plan on me dying, either.
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