Unable to breathe, I slip down the rabbit hole
Inside my five-year-old's mind, I picture little bubbles of oxygen trying to swim through a thick, ugly sludge. Only to be met by a steel-trapped door shutting off my lungs to the tiniest spark of breath.
Why does breathing have to be so hard?
My head starts to wobble, like an anchor shifting from side-to-side sinking beneath a deep, black surface. My eyelids grow too heavy under their own weight, drooping to cover my big, hazel eyes, as a sheet covers a dead body.
That's when I start falling. Down, down deeper and faster.
I'm Alice falling down the rabbit hole.
As the darkness surrounds me, and I drift into the netherworld. I have the sensation of huge, metal claws coming down around my body. They're lifting me out of the unknown. Droplets of the other world drip from my physical essence. Or is it my physical essence dripping from this world in order to enter the next? I'm not sure. Things around me are hazy. I hear talking and movement, but it sounds so far away. I hear a voice so familiar,
"Hold on, Baby! We're almost there."
No, Daddy. I'm tired. I don't want to be here anymore. I'm going down the rabbit hole. I can breathe there.
There's so much screaming. So many people running around. I hear another voice. This one is familiar also but in a different sense. I know this voice. It's the voice of comfort, the voice of peace, the voice of breathing. There's no other place I want to be than with that quiet, gentle voice. I slip away.
I'm floating in the clean, crisp air. Air I can breathe. There's no fighting here. No noise which assaults the senses. It's safe here.
My angel is here with me. Her flowing lavender gown is roped with a white and lavender sash. She stands as tall as the trees. But she's as gentle as the breeze. Pools of bright turquoise eyes beam with laughter and kindness. We meet each other in the air, and she takes my hand. I know all is as it should be. This is where I belong. Waves of golden wheat flow behind her as she guides me into the light. A glimmering light of love, hope and all that is good flows in and surrounds us. The flowers dance in their beds. Colors more vibrant than any on earth. Even the grass is alive. I'm greeted by my grandfather. He's smiling. I'm smiling ... I'm breathing.
My grandfather takes my hands and tells me, "Honey, this is not your time. Your family needs you. You need to go back."
"No, Pappy. It hurts there. I can't breathe there. I'm by myself. Please, let me stay here with you. With Jesus."
Pictures flood my mind like movie screens all around me. I see my life. I understand far beyond my earthly five years why I need to be back on earth. I understand why my family needs me and how I'm going to help them. And I know that if I don't return, it would be selfish on my part. But still, it is my choice. It's not an order.
As quickly as I agreed to go back, and hug my grandfather, I am back on earth. My angel is here with me. We're floating in the stark white corner of the hospital emergency room. My father is beside my body. Tears are flowing down my big, strong daddy's face. My body is as limp as a wet rag. My face, the color of a stormy sky. I glance at my angel, and with a reassuring nod, I slip back.
"Daddy? Daddy, don't cry. I'm back."
Relief floods my father's face. I am back. But I'm not the same. You can never be the same once you've been in the presence of Jesus.
My mind is filled with images of the other world. The real world. I don't remember everything, but I remember enough. I don't think the same as a five-year-old anymore. I see the connections between people. I know mommies and daddies are just people. Everyone needs everyone else. People's eyes are closed. They don't see where they came from, they don't see where they're going back. But it's there. We're always watched over and many times we're protected. So much more than we'll ever know. But we have to make mistakes. We have to learn. But most of all, we're here to help one another. Be each other's rock on which to lean. We're simply here to love. And each time we do what we're supposed to do, our light gets a little bit brighter. Our connection to the other world a little thinner.
We are loved. I know. I've been down the rabbit hole.