Thursday, March 15, 2007

you will see heaven, the angels, and god himself

On the day my mother was discharged from the hospital, our whole family was relieved. The second ECG showed a healthy heart, except that it’s a bit enlarged, which has been her problem since the nineties. It’s a relief to know that it’s nothing serious. The 2D Echo performed that morning also didn’t show anything alarming, thank Vishnu. The official results will still have to be interpreted by Dr. Bautista, the cardiologist with pimples the size of cherries and with a bad case of halitosis. We’re all ecstatic that nothing is wrong with her.

Before we left the hospital, my elderly aunt, whom, I think is my father’s cousin (I’m not really sure), visited my mother, carrying with her three oranges as get-well soon gift. She’s a cancer survivor. Three months after her husband’s death, she got so depressed her cancel cells got activated. They said it was cancer of the nose or something like that; her nasal cavity had been badly affected. She was eager to describe her near-death experience in vivid detail.

To me, it seemed more like the hallucinatory effect of general anaesthesia, but what the heck, I had nothing else better to do so I sat up and listened.

She said she felt like she was breezed through something. “A tunnel, that’s a tunnel,” interjected my sister who pulled a chair by the hospital bed to listen attentively to my aunt.

Then she saw a troop of dancers in tattered robes, begging for some loose change. Somehow, she got transported to a place with an enormous well with a blazing fire inside.

“Oh that’s hell, you’ve seen hell,” said my sister, her nostrils dilating like my dog’s when it is in heat. She asked someone which direction she should take to get to heaven. She was told to go up a long staircase. The ascent was tiring. Eventually, she felt she was just being lifted higher because her weary feet were just too exhausted to go on.

“There’s an angel, you were being carried by an angel, have you seen it?” asked my sister.

She arrived in a breezy place of blue and immaculate white, which she thought was heaven. She saw kids of the same height and a man with keys, whom she believed was Saint Peter.

“Oh, you’re starting to mix it up with your own beliefs now,” commented my sister, who, being a born-again Christian isn’t exactly too euphoric about Catholic iconography.

A great book was opened and the man asked what her name was. Immediately after mentioning her name, the man flipped through the pages to look for it. As the man fingered through a page, he murmured: “St. Benedict, Joseph, and Mary…” My aunt’s name wasn’t there.
By this time, my sister's face was starting to sour.

And then, she saw a huge arched gate that opened out to a magnificent banquet hall. In the middle of the hall was a big statue of the Virgin Mary with flying thingies all around it.

“I think you’re hallucinating now. It must’ve been the anesthesia,” quipped my incredulous sister. (In this country, Protestants equate the veneration of Mary to pagan worship).

And then, after that, my aunt said the drug wore out and she found herself back to the operating room. But before that happened, she heard the song In His Time being played in the background. She has never heard this song before. She sang two lines to us and tears instantly raced down her plump cheeks.

My sister was quick to exploit the situation. “Do you know what that meant?” she asked. “God wants to save you. The fact that your name is not yet written in the book of life is proof enough that you need to accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior.” I quickly turned away, tucked myself in one corner of the hospital room, and tried to read John Bayley’s Elegy for Iris. The scene was getting more surreal than the hallucinations of a stoned rockstar has-been.

“Are you doing anything this afternoon? Why don’t you come with us. We can talk about your experience more.” When we got home, my aunt requested me to play Ballade Pour Adeline and Song for Anna on the piano. And then, I accompanied my father as he sang In His Time. The music had been cued. The lights were on. The stage couldn’t have been more perfect.

My sister got a bible and started the performance. “This will separate fact from hallucination. According to the book of Revelation chapter 3, verse 2 …”

It was too much for me. It’s time to do something worthwhile, I thought. So I went up my room, turned on my laptop, and surfed the net for porn.