It struck Grace Jennings odd when there was no sense of hurry or anxiety as her view slipped from one sight to another. Breezes clean as morning dew refreshed and called forth scenes from her youth. So clear, and yet without the fear or forebodings she often associated with those memories.
There was a fly-fisherman in Yellowstone, that otherworldly place she and Ben loved to visit, and then, more quickly than she could describe it, she was with her friend Mary at the old fishing hole in Emmanuel Creek, stringing worms on a bent pin and then shrieking when they pulled up thorny bullheads, or worse, a brown, serpentine gar.
She had to smile thinking about the discussions the pre-teens had about where babies come from. If they had been right, neither of them would have become mothers.
Back in time to Grandpa’s house and his throaty chuckle as he helped sip thick and sweet coffee from his saucer. Or admonished her not to hurt the big bull snake curled on the rock by the front door. “He works here,” Grandpa said. “Eats mice.”
Near the fishing hole, Grace and her mother once saw a moose. Nobody believed them.
Her mother never knew about sunning on the sandbar in the Missouri River. Or the terrifying boom when river ice began breaking up while they were ice-skating.
A dream of her mother: The house was burning but her mother still stood on one section of linoleum, ironing clothes, oblivious to the danger around her, not hearing Grace screaming for her. Grace wondered why she had felt so guilty then.
Guilty thoughts: The time she killed a broody hen, the time she threw the razor strap down behind the wall, remembering an abused animal—as the painful scenes showed up, they turned into a puff of smoke and disappeared.
Up and down, back and forth, making butterfly landings on one scene and then another, drawn moment to moment by a gentle hand.
So quickly, they moved through mountains and seas she and Ben visited together. The long road trips of companionable silence. Scenes of her world slipped by like a slide show. Egyptian pyramids, a beautiful vineyard in Tuscany, walking the cobblestone streets in Jerusalem…
Oh, there was Ben with her daughter on his arm—beautiful bride…the babies–she reached back, hoping to touch those dear baby faces one more time, to bury her face in Ben’s bristly beard…
She grabbed her guide’s hand, yearning—“Please, one last look! My life has been most precious! It’s all I know…”
As Earth’s gravitational pull diminished, her guide gently pried her fingers from his hand.
“It’s time. Your life has been the briefest foretaste. The beauties of this realm grow increasingly dim as you are face to face with Earthmaker who breathed your precious life into being.”
Grace stepped on to golden glass.
“Go on, now. Further in and higher up.”