Set me a seal upon your heart,
As a ring upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death...
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
A flame of the Eternal.

Song of Songs viii 6-7

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Monday, July 23, 2012


Journal Entry 1
Tuesday 12/23/2003
Tempe, Arizona

            Max left our world just two nights before Christmas at nine o’clock sharp.  In life my Max had never been late for any important occasion, and so in death.  Some say, at fifty years of age, he died too young.  Others say he lived a full life.  But as I see it, young or old, Max left our world too soon.
            Yet, this story is not so much about my grief as it is about my husband, Max, and my joy.  Perhaps you might be thinking, she lost her spouse.  How can she be talking about her “joy” if she cared about this guy at all?  Well, I must say that along with the shock and sadness that came with the loss of my beloved husband and friend, something extraordinary arrived at my door – something I certainly never expected and will never forget.  No, not in a lifetime!  For when these incredible things began to happen, I was an agnostic.  For over thirty years, I had no beliefs.
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            Decades earlier, I did have some beliefs:  the beliefs of my parents.  I had attended Catholic school in Ohio, wore my beanie and school uniform every day, and went to church faithfully as commanded by the nuns.  In fact, I’d become quite good at parroting prayers and verses from my missalette. 
            My grandmother thought I was a saint. 
            Well, what did she know? 
            Maybe I was sedate in high school.  Certainly too shy to talk to boys.  They must have thought I was rather bookish.  But no more than a week after starting school at Kent State University, my life began to change.  You see, when I dropped off my books and took off my glasses, attractive young men began showing up at my door – a singular experience for any young woman, (especially me)! 
            Soon I found myself steeped in studies and loving every minute of it.  What a kick to imitate my science professor!  You see, Dr. Culver was a passionate man:  “You must have evidence – hard data – for every statement you make, for every hypothesis you develop.  Data and information – the keys to our three dimensional world!”  (Did I believe him?  Of course I did, and still do.)  But soon I started to question everything in existence, including my mother’s ideas about a distant place called heaven.  I certainly had no hard data for that.  So my childhood fantasies of a divine maker, and everything that came along this inscrutable concept, evaporated before you could say Christmas Break. 
            Then after leaving Ohio for sunnier parts unknown, I finally received my four-year degree from Arizona State University and returned for six more years of graduate study.  I became a research scientist, a statistician by trade.  What better way to develop hypotheses and process all that hard data Dr. Culver was always talking about.  I loved it!  And in the process of all that, I met and married my sweetheart, Max.  We had a wonderful life together for sixteen years.  We worked hard and had so many wonderful times traveling around the western region of our great country.  In the mornings we drank our coffee from tin cups by clear running streams.  At night we camped out under the stars.  Such happy times we had…
            … and yet, I see now that the best thing we had was love.
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            Then, my Max died of cancer and things began to happen that did not fit into the world of my adulthood – my agnostic world.  But I knew that if I ever hoped to make any sense out of the mind-boggling incidents that our friends, loved ones and even I had begun to experience, I would have to stick with the scientific method – observe and record “the data” – the bizarre, beautiful and mind-boggling events I have set down in writing, here in my journal.
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            On the very night Max departed, two of his sisters began to have strange experiences.  Though I was feeling so heartbroken to have lost my husband and dearest friend of all, his sisters telephone calls caught my attention.  You see, the “tales” they were telling me sounded, what?  Just plain weird.  So I gathered up all the strength I could muster and began to take notes.  If nothing else, I thought perhaps this would take my mind off the daunting lack of Max. 
            Well, I must at least try, I sighed and told myself, though I certainly didn’t comprehend one wit of what was happening back then.  Now I see.  My notes would become the start of a detailed log of paranormal and supernatural events. 
            So, one night during Christmas Week, not long after Max had left us, Paulette called me from her home in Sonoita, Arizona.  She said that Max had appeared to her in a dream around eleven o’clock, about two hours after he had died.  Yet, despite Paulette’s sadness on hearing the terrible news of her brother’s death, she sounded almost comfortable with the whole idea.  Strange, I thought.  But I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, so I just kept quiet and listened.
            She said that in her lifelike dream, Max had been joking around with her.  “Hey, I feel fantastic, Paulette,” he hooted, “more alive now than ever!”  They’d been “tipping a few” and watching the late shows together.  Well, along with my surprise, imagine how I might have felt.  If Paulette’s dream contains any ounce of reality, I thought, am I so happy to hear that Max, in all his aliveness, is having such a grand time without me? 
            I shook my head.  Oh, it’s just a dream.  Still, I continued to jot things down on paper.
            Now, after all the extraordinary events I have witnessed since Christmas Week of ‘03, I look back in joy and wonder over Paulette’s numinous dream.  For when she finished telling me her story, she cried out, “Mandy, my dream seemed so real!  Imagine my state of confusion and disappointment when I woke up to find Max gone!  How is that possible?”  For Paulette, this was an encounter of some sort, resulting in a sense of disorientation and disillusionment once she finally grasped that Max had left our world…
            ... if, indeed, he did go, for Paulette’s dream was just the beginning. 
            Days later, Max’s middle sister telephoned me from Oxford, England.  Soon Char proceeded to tell me about an extraordinary march, of sorts, that she had witnessed in her home.  She’d been sitting in the bathroom when, out of nowhere, footprints began “stomping” their way into her bathroom rug.  The tracks were not of her own making “…because, Mandy,” she said, “they appeared to me, one by one, as they were being made!” as if an unseen crusader were trampling on her rug.  Char was appalled, yet amazed, watching in disbelief as the mind-boggling footprints materialized right in front of her.
            Not long after Char’s encounter with the uncanny, the family called to express their regrets.  They said her beloved brother had passed at nine p.m. Mountain Time in the hospice in Tempe, Arizona.  Char then realized something unbelievable:  accounting for the time differential between England and Arizona, Max had departed – in real time – not long before the mysterious footprints “appeared” on her bathroom rug.  This bizarre phenomenon had taken place on the morning of December Twenty-Fourth.  It was Christmas Eve in Oxford, England.
            I can just hear Max now.  “Hey guys, Happy Holidays!” he seemed to say.  "You just call out my name and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running to see you again…." [1]
            We played that song for him all night, the night he died.

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 [1] King, Carole.  "You've Got a Friend." Tapestry. A&M, 1971, LP.