Sometimes death takes on different forms for different people. This is a tale about one of those times.
Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. — Author Unknown
Excuse me a moment. Believe someone’s at the door.
(Hears knocking.) Hmmm, sounds like from upstairs but I don’t have an upstairs.
(Door sounds, squeakily opens.)
“Pam?” I ask. No response.
“Pam?” I ask again.
“I can’t come out but you can come in,” she intones.
“I hear your voice but can’t see you. If this is what I think it is, I can’t come up there now. It’s not yet my time,” I say.
Then slowly I hear a squeaky door closing.
“Pam?”, I ask. No response. Then again; nothing.
Then, faintly, as if In the distance, I hear a door close.
I stand there, frozen and jarred by the experience.
News Bulletin from the Interdimensional News Agency:
Did this really happen? Does life exist that close to another dimension? Does just a door we cannot see separate us from the hereafter? Who knows!
Perhaps in the Twilight Zone it does, but this is not the TZ. Or is it?
Perhaps it’s simply a page-turn at the chapter’s end in the multidimensional book of life and death.
“Pam? . . . Pam?”. . . Fade to black . . .
That was over a year ago and nothing like that has reoccurred. I think back on that evening from time to time wondering if it did, in fact, happen or was I just dreaming.
This particular evening was quiet and I found myself curled up in my easy chair with a good book. I had just come to a stopping point and started to head off to bed when I heard what I thought was a very squeaky door slowly opening. Thinking to myself it came from next door, I went off to bed.
“Joe?” the voice intoned in what was more like a low whisper.
“Joe?” the voice asked again.
I froze. I just stood there, saying and doing nothing.
“Who’s there?,” I asked, not really expecting a reply.
“I can’t come out but you can come in,” the voice replied softly.
Not again, I thought. This can’t be happening.
“Joe?,” said the voice again. “Please come up and join me. I miss you!” she said .
Playing along, I said “Who is this and what do you want?”
“It’s me, Pam. Please join me upstairs.”
“I don’t have an upstairs and you can’t be Pam. My wife died over a year ago,” I said.
“If this is some sort of sick, perverted joke, I don’t appreciate it!,” I stressed.
“It’s no joke, Joe,” the voice said softly. “It is me, Pam, and you do have an upstairs, just not like you know it to be.”
Then, for some strange reason, I turned around and looked back toward the living room and kitchen area. There was a cloud-like haze inside the apartment, almost like a cloud had seeped inside hugging just below the ceiling.
I heard what sounded like a door slowly rocking back and forth on its hinges. I stood there in awe of what I thought I saw.
What was this sight I was seeing. Could it be an actual cloud? No, that’s impossible, I thought. Another dimension?
Then the voice again, “Joe, come join me. I miss you.” This time the voice was much clearer and louder, but not yelling. “There’s a room that’s been made ready for you. It’s right next to mine. Won’t you please join us?” she asked.
“Us?” I said. “Who’s us,” I asked.
No answer. Silence. Utter stillness.
Yet, the “cloud” remained. Was it an entrance to another dimension? Was this voice talking and beckoning to me really Pam? I didn’t know. I just know that during this time the hairs on the back of my heard were still at attention and I was quite uneasy.
Meanwhile, that slow rhythmical squeaking of a door rocking back and forth on its hinges was the only sound I heard.
Until I didn’t. Then the door closed shut, rather startlingly.
“Pam? . . . Pam?” I called out.
Moments went by, then hours. The cloud remained, just hovering in silence. What was I to make of this? It was as if it were watching me, steadily gazing toward me, emitting no sound. I sat there, somewhat stunned but definitely curious.
Then, in a wink, it vanished. As if by some movie special effect, it was gone. No remnants, no nothing. It was as if it never appeared. No Pam, no voice, no cloud, nothing. I sat there in Pam’s big chair in my living room trying to absorb what had taken place these past hours. I definitely couldn’t make sense of it all.
Days, weeks, even months had gone by and nothing had happened. I began to feel as if Pam finally understood that my time had not come up yet and that I couldn’t join her, if in fact that was indeed my Pamela.
Then one night, as I was sleeping soundly, a squeaky noise awoke me. Dazed, I slowly raised up in bed to see what appeared to be a hazy figure standing in my bedroom doorway. As it slowly drifted towards me, I stay frozen in place in bed watching what I honestly thought was a dream-scape. I thought, any minute you’re gonna wake up!
The figure wafted over right next to my bed and just hovered there, close enough that I recognized it.
“Pam!” I sorta yelled out. “What are you . . .” but before I could utter another word, I felt myself being lifted up from the bed and being pulled, so to speak, alongside this figure of Pam and towards the doorway.
“Come with me, Joe,” she said. “Your room is ready and we have some fun surprises in store,” she assured me.
I couldn’t speak, I just floated, unable to move of my own accord. We gradually floated into the living room where the cloud had reappeared before us, just beneath the ceiling. It was as if it were beckoning us both to enter into it somehow.
All the while, Pam looked at me, smiling. “Don’t be alarmed, Joe. Everything is going to be just fine,” she said. And with those words, up in the cloud we went and then . . . poof . . . we were gone.
Several years have passed since Pam and Joe were last seen being swept up into the cloud. Several Earth years, that is. Their time “upstairs” has only been minutes. Since Pam took Joe into the cloud with her, Joe’s apartment has remained empty due to his mysterious disappearance some five years ago. Everything is as it was that day with the rent even kept up to date by an anonymous benefactor in the hopes he would some day return or be found.
“Pam, what are you doing? It’s not his time, he can’t be up here now!” she was told.
“I don’t care! I want him with me. We miss each other,” she replied.
“I finally got my wish in leaving him to have a life of his own where he’d be better off. But now that I’m up here and he’s still down there, I don’t want it to be this way. I want him up here with me!” she firmly stated. “Besides, another few minutes of our time will translate into another five years Earth time. That will then make ten years he will have gone missing and, thus, be legally declared dead on Earth. That, then, will make him our newest resident up here,” she stated.
“Still, you can’t just kidnap someone and make him a part of our timetable,” she was told. “That’s not how this works!” she was reminded, rather firmly.
“Don’t you realize that even if you brought him back to resume his life, his timeline would be altered by five to ten years. You’d be putting him in a very uncomfortable situation, to say the least,” it was pointed out.
Someone else stressed the point that “The more this discussion goes on, everything else may very well become moot because of Earth time. Very shortly he will become declared dead, whether we like it or not.”
“At that point,” said Pam, “I’ll awaken him from his suspended animation state and welcome him to our afterlife!”
“What are you going to do if he reacts negatively? Remember, you did sort of kidnap or body-nap him,” she was reminded.
“He’ll be fine, if somewhat surprised,” she said.
“Surprised?” exclaimed someone. “That’s putting it mildly. The poor fellow will probably have a heart attack!” he said.
“That would sure solve a lot of problems,” someone else said.
“Everyone just relax,” said Pam. “I have my husband back even if it’s just a wee bit earlier than expected,” she said.
“Okay, now it’s official. Earth time has passed the ten year point of his missing and they’ve declared Joe legally dead. He’s a new resident of our afterlife. His room is ready next to mine and it’s time to awaken him,” announced Pam.
After a few moments, Joe began to come out of his suspended status and wake up.
“Welcome, Darling. Welcome to your afterlife and eternity with me!” proclaimed Pam.
“Pam?” said an incredulous Joe. “What in hell is this place and how did I get here? Last thing I remember is a ghostly figure entering my bedroom and hovering over me. After that, nothing,” he said.
“Joe, that was me hovering over you some ten Earth years ago,” said Pam. “I brought you into the afterlife, to join me so we can live out eternity together. We even have connecting rooms!” she said.
“Ten years ago?! Afterlife? You mean I’m dead? This is Heaven? Where’s St. Pete and the Pearly Gates? I always looked forward to one day meeting him, just not like this,” exclaimed Joe.
“In time, my love, in time,” cooed Pam.
“Well, what’s gonna happen downstairs, to my apartment and my, uh, previous life?,” asked Joe.
“It’ll all be taken care of, dear,” reassured Pam. “It’s no longer your concern,” she said. “Remember, that was ten years ago. Life and your family have moved on. Now it’s your turn or should I say time. You’re about to begin a new life, one that will be wonderful beyond your wildest dreams, my dear,” said Pam.
“Just one damn minute, Pam. This seems to be all about what you want, not what I want. I was fairly content in leading my life, albeit missing you, but it was my life to lead. Now I seem to be serving up to your whims of eternal life ahead of schedule. I’m not sure I like that!” exclaimed Joe.
“I’m sorry you’re upset, darling, but the passage of time has made your concerns moot. There’s nothing you can do,” explained Pam.
“Like Hell there is! I want to talk to the management of this place. I don’t even think this is Heaven ’cause you don’t have this kind of power over anyone, least of all me, Pam,” stated Joe.
“Calm down, honey,” said Pam. “You’re just upset at your new surroundings. You’ll get used to them, I promise,” soothed Pam.
“I said I want to talk to the managem . . .” started Joe before he stopped speaking. In fact his entire body froze.
“Good Lord, what happened to him?” asked someone.
“Nothing,” reassured Pam. “I put him into another state of suspended animation to let him calm down some,” she said.
“When will you bring him out of it?,” another inquired.
“When the time is right, of course,” explained Pam. “When the time is right,” said she.
“And when might that be?” pressed Jacob, one of the elders of the Upstairs.
“When I say it is!” stressed Pam.
“I’m afraid you don’t have that kind of say-so up here, at least not yet,” explained Jacob. “You’ll need to run this by Simon and get his okay,” he said.
“And who might Simon be?” asked Pam.
“Why Simon is the Caretaker of the Upstairs. He says what goes,” Jacob stated.
“Don’t I have any input?,” asked Pam.
“Sure you do, Pam. But Simon decides what’s best for all of us Upstairs,” said Jacob.
“This is sure not the way I thought the afterlife would be,” said Pam. “It’s certainly not my idea of Heaven or the Jewish equivalent,” she stated.
(Laughing) “Who said anything about Heaven or the Jewish equivalent?,” asked Jacob. “This is the Upstairs, Pam. This is your afterlife,” he said rather firmly. “And Joe’s, too. You saw to that,” he reminded her.
And so it was, a new beginning of sorts for Joe and Pam, although it took a little while for them to become accustomed to this new afterlife. A word of caution here: Eternal life may be different for different people, as Pam is finding out. As for Joe, it was decided that a fitting gesture would be to have his memorial site back in Louisiana appropriately engraved with his name, date of birth but instead of a date of death, simply “To Be Continued, Upstairs.”