And Your Mother Was There

My mom and I don’t always see things on the same level. We don’t always agree or see things eye to eye. We argue and sometimes those arguments get heated. Sometimes things are just bad. There’s no other way to explain it. We’re both opinionated and bull headed. We both speak our minds, which is not always good, especially when we are in disagreement on something.

If there’s one thing we agree on, it’s my dad. We both love him and the thought of something bad happening to him terrifies us both. So, when he went in for quadruple heart surgery we both had a shared interest: his health. There was no arguing or bickering or petty disagreements. There was a silent bond that wasn’t spoken. Yet, there was a story told, one I didn’t know of, though my mom swears she told it to me before.

This story, which I will tell you about in a moment made my mom’s eyes tear up. It was a result of Dad coming out of surgery and going into recovery. We would be allowed to see him about an hour after the surgery. Mom asked if I wanted to see him. Of course I did, but not with tubes in his mouth and all sorts of lines going in and out of him. I have seen these things before and it’s not something I haven’t been able to handle in the past. But this is my dad and I chose not to see him that way. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have been able to keep the tears out of my eyes, even knowing he was going to be okay.

And this led to the story.

If you can, picture this: We sat in a large open room. Chairs were set up in a square in each corner where at least ten to twelve people could sit as a family or a group. We sat in the far corner, furthest from the entrance, but also in full view of that entrance. The woman(my mom)—not young, but not old either—had sat in the same spot for most of the time waiting for someone to tell us Dad was out of surgery. Across from her sat her second and third born children. That would be me and my baby brother, the one affectionately known as Mutt. Some of you will get that reference. Others of you won’t.

I had voiced my decision to not see Dad with all the wires, tubes and i.v.’s hooked up to him. I wasn’t sure what Mom would think about this or even what she might say. What she said surprised me a little.

‘I understand,’ Mom said. ‘It was like when you were in the hospital with all those wires hooked up to you.’

I gave her an odd look, I guess. She clarified her statement.

‘When you were a kid.’

The light came on. Long story short: When I was a kid I was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night. Some things transpired and I died.

Let’s stop here for a moment.

If I died, how can I be typing this? Yeah, I would ask that question, too. The answer? They revived me.

Now, stick with me for a minute as I try to recall Mom’s words, though I probably won’t get them a hundred percent right.

She said:

‘I prayed and prayed that God would let my baby live. And I felt like the prayers were getting pushed down, getting pushed back. I kept praying, God, let my baby live. And it kept getting pushed down. I knew what God wanted me to say, that His will be done, but I couldn’t do it.’

At this point there were tears in Mom’s eyes. I said nothing. What could I say? I never recalled hearing the story, so, to me, it was very new and very raw and very real with emotion.

She continued:

‘Finally, I prayed and I said, ‘Lord, I know what you want me to say, but this is as close as I can get to it, if it’s Your will, let my baby live.’

To steal from the movie Grease. I got chills, they’re multiplying.

‘Almost immediately after praying that, I got the peace that passes understanding and I knew you would be okay. I knew my baby was alive.

Two days later you woke up and you said…I was here on your right and your grandmother was on your left and you said, ‘I just visited the most beautiful place.’ And you turned to Momma (my grandmother) and said, ‘And your mother was there.’

‘You were in Heaven and you saw her there.’

My great grandmother died when I was two. I don’t remember her, though according to Mom, she loved me and hugged and snuggled with me and I let her do it and was content to be loved and hugged and snuggled.

Out of body experience? Mom believes so. I have no reason to disagree.

If you know anything about me, you know I write dark stories and that I’ve always been fascinated by the darkness of the human soul. Mom said she’s always thought that my interest in these things is related to that event. She may just be right.

And, if you know anything about me at all, then you know I have faith in God, in Jesus, and you also know I’ve always been a little different in my approach on a lot of things in life. I am my own person and I like it that way. Do I believe I paid Heaven a little visit and that I saw my great grandmother? You bet.

Do I believe in the power of prayer? Yup.

My mom wiped her eyes and gave me a smile. She understood why I felt the way I did. Why? Because she had seen me in a similar position when I was a little kid. She had seen me unconscious with wires and i.v’s hooked up to my body. It couldn’t have been easy for her.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it now: nothing makes you appreciate life more than death.

I lived through death years ago. I was prayed through it. Today, my dad is alive and he was prayed through it. I know many out there don’t believe in God and Jesus, but I do. My family does.

One more thing. I’ve thought on this story a lot tonight and I’ll probably think on it a lot going forward. It’s a story I am happy I heard. It explains a lot.

I got chills, they’re multiplying…

I don’t know how things will be going forward. But I know that moment will always be special, real and raw with emotion. And I understand a few things about myself that I never did before. It’s interesting how one story can make you see things differently.

Until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another.

The Truth, Horror and Faith and Their Coexistence

I was going to sit and write about my book, about my thoughts on Along the Splintered Path and where I see my writing going. I may still write about some of that here and I guess part of this will be about my writing. But I would like to start with something else.

I will try to keep this short.

I want to state, quite clearly, with the revelations of last week and the mindset that I have, the way my heart feels deep inside, I will not preach to anyone. It is not who I am. It is not who I wish to be.

I think opportunities present themselves to the willing Christians out there who genuinely want to share their faith. I don’t, however, believe that I can approach anyone (especially folks I don’t know) with one agenda: to witness and witness alone. I think (mind you, I think) that witnessing is an important thing, but I also think there is a time and a place and the right circumstances have to be in place in order to do so.

I want to say something that may offend a few folks and if it does, I’m sorry. This is how I feel. This is how my heart feels. There are far too many Christians out there doing nothing to help better the world. Flip that coin over and look at the other side: There are far too many Christians forcing themselves onto people and running people off from the Lord. Neither of these approaches gets the message out there. Neither passiveness nor aggressiveness works.

The Bible says: By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)

To paraphrase here: They will know us by our love for one another.

A heavy handed approach rarely ever works these days. Compassion and love and gentleness and understanding do. Yes, I said understanding. Our world is such a diverse place to live in and people are so different in many aspects. We shouldn’t try to change them, but accept people for who they are. Trying to change people is a personal agenda. There are no two ways around it. However, Jesus commands us to love one another and it is that love that leads to understanding.

There is a lot of bitterness toward Christians and rightfully so. Too many Christians either do nothing or are too heavy handed in their approach. There has to be a balance and when there is balance there is opportunity. Find that balance and the journey, I believe, will be that much more rewarding for you.

One more thing and I will move onto something else: If you are a Christian, then your actions will speak louder than your words unless your words are spoken with an angry spirit. Just something to chew on.

***

The world is a vampire
–The Smashing Pumpkins
Bullet with Butterfly Wings

Welcome to my nightmare
–Alice Cooper
Welcome To My Nightmare

It’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God, I know I’m one

–The Animals
House of the Rising Sun

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door and it has been painted black
Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts
It’s not easy facin’ up when your whole world is black.

–The Rolling Stones
Paint it Black

You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day.
Tried to run
Tried to Hide
Break on through to the other side…

–The Doors
Break on Through

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
Focused on the pain
The only thing that’s real

–Nine Inch Nails
Hurt

Obviously, these are lyrics to songs, all of which I love. I think lyrics are some of the most powerful words written. Regardless of what the song is, someone (and it may only be one person) will get something from it. That makes song lyrics so powerful.

The lyrics above could be considered dark by many. For me, they are beautifully rendered truths that someone felt as they wrote them.

I said that to echo something a friend of mine said recently when trying to figure out the next step in my writing career and whether to continue writing at all. That friend would be Steve Lowe, my sick-o bizarro writer friend.

AJ – I would have to think that everything you have written reflects a period of your life and what you were experiencing, something that you felt compelled to document and seen through the lens you were looking through at that time. I see nothing to be ashamed about with that.

Several others chimed in with their thoughts, all of them uplifting and giving me some reassurance in, not my stories or my abilities, but what I’ve chosen to write.

I’m proud of my work. I’m proud of the stories I’ve managed to get published over the years. I’m especially proud of Along the Splintered Path, my three story e-book collection. They reflect me during a period of my life and that life, as I’ve said before, is an open book for anyone who wishes to know about it.

Admittedly, I’m heading into a new phase of writing, but let me say this: Horror and Faith can coexist. They have since before the serpent first tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit.

I’m a horror writer. That’s the bottom line. I’m a horror writer, and for the last week or so I’ve debated, prayed, and discussed with folks the very idea of writing what I love to write and balancing it with my faith.

I’d like to think my stories are told honestly, that there is truth in the words and actions of the characters. It’s that truth that I enjoy writing about.

It takes a special person to write horror. No, I’m not talking about monsters here. I’m talking about the horrors of the world; the way the world is today. True horror is all about good and evil. Not just good. Not just evil. Both of them and the battle that takes place between them.

There is a lot of redemption in horror stories. The good ones rely on the spiritual warfare going on inside a person’s heart and mind. Good horror reflects on life and the decisions people make. Good horror is truth and it is that truth I wish to continue to bring you. I hope I continue to succeed at that.

Thank you for visiting Type AJ Negative and for reading. There is no greater sadness for a writer than to have no readers.

Until we meet again, my friends…