Only twice in my life have I had such an experience. The kind that leaves you in unexplainable shock-even dismay, yet conversely strangely comforted at the same time. These experiences have left me questioning the theories of the known world, generally accepted as fact, and pondering the idea of what reality truly means.
Is it relative to time and space? Is it relative even to your own individual perception? Can a broader more encompassing scope of the idea of reality even exist, or must it be accepted piece by piece, individually, as to only create an illusion of the idea of reality in each of us?
I find that as time marches on, as I grow and learn, and as I mature the important answers in life seem to always be two steps ahead of wherever you currently are. To additionally compound the complexity of any given situation, I also tend to find those answers (whenever I’m lucky enough to get one) in hindsight, though I would have been sure they weren’t there before. Sometimes situations and experiences happen in which the explanation eludes you completely. And how then do we quantify the incident, but can chalk it up to nothing less than phenomena.
Three years ago I stood at the instant-print machine in the photo department of a local store designing my Christmas cards. Tapping away at the screen a young boy, I’d say eight or ten, walked up to Miss Elliott and I. He stared at her quizzically for a moment and then directed his attention to me as he spoke.
“She’s sick isn’t she,” he said.
Caught off guard yet intrigued by his candor, “Yes she is,” I replied as I now looked quizzically back at him.
“She’s going to die soon,” He continued.
Shocked, I looked around. Who was this kid? Why was he here all alone? Where were his parents? “Yes, she is dying,” I confirmed to him.
“She won’t be here for very long. She’ll make it through the holidays and past the New Year, but probably not long after that,” he prophesied.
Tears formed in my stinging eyes. I wanted to ask him when, and how he knew this. I wanted him to reveal more information to me. Instead I stood there, paralyzed in some confused state of awe. Before I could say anything more his grandmother walked up.
“I’m sorry my grandson’s bothering you,” she said as she shuffled him away and kept walking herself. “He’s not right. He says things. Don’t mind him.”
“It’s ok,” I told her. “He wasn’t bothering me, really.”
“I’m sorry,” she repeated, and they walked away before I could say any more.
I wondered so many things. How could such a young child have had the foresight to think something like that? What prompted him to say it? Was he a messenger? And if so, did everyone in his life blindly excuse his differences as just nonsense? What made his grandmother think he was bothering me? Even more mysterious, I wondered if he even existed in the world at all outside of this particular interaction. Was it possible he was there solely to speak to me?
I left the store more than a little rattled by my exchange with the Ghost of Christmas Future, and returned home. His prophecy now haunting my thoughts. She would die soon? When? Why? She was doing fine. I kissed her head and head her tight. I stared into her face and cried all night at the thought of losing her. It was, of course the nature of her condition. I had already acknowledged that she was, in fact dying. I just wasn’t ready for it. I knew I never would be.
Christmas came and went, and so did New Year’s. By the end of January, when she was still with us I chalked the would-be prophet’s omen up to my own overindulged imagination and put it behind me, that is until February 3rd, when she passed away.
As I sit here today I think about this experience so often, and know that even now, even in hindsight, I still can’t explain it. I’ve decided that this, like so many other things in life, I won’t have an answer to in this world, and I’m okay with that. Perhaps the answer isn’t what’s important. Perhaps it’s what I, what we all make of the experience itself.