Late September 2013, I was admitted to a hospital in northern California for treatment of pancreatitis.
I lay in an empty hospital room by myself wondering if this is how my story comes to an end--alone, amongst strangers, with no one on the other end of the telephone, given that all of my family was back east in Philadelphia with a 3-hour time difference. Following the diagnosis and harsh warning from the E.R. doctor that I was about to experience more pain than any human being would normally experience throughout their entire lives, I was admitted to the hospital for care. What happened in the late hours of that September night would shatter my reality forever. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was dying and that I was being called to pay the debt that all men must pay. But I was not in the least bit ready. Hour upon hour, I lay there in agonizing pain, the likes of which I never thought possible.
My pancreas was dissolving itself. I was literally being eaten from the inside out, and just when I thought I couldn't take it any longer, I felt some sort of internal shift take place inside my body that made me close my eyes and cringe. It startled me, and as I opened my eyes, I realized I could not see. There was a murky blur covering my eyesight, so I began to peel what felt like hardened wax off of my left eye. It felt just like peeling a layer off of an onion. Everything felt cleared off but my sight was completely out of focus and I began to hear footsteps clambering all around me. Trying to remain calm I hurriedly ripped the layers off of my right eye, the whole time wondering what in the world was going on, but my gut was bursting with butterflies, telling me something is terribly wrong.
Anticipating the unknown, I became paralyzed with fear as my vision began to clear up and my surroundings came into focus. I found myself on the outskirts of a sea of people who were running around like wild savages, hitting each other with a variety of different weapons. You name it! They had it! Everybody had white eyes, down to their pupils. Haunting eyes that I will never forget... Soul-less! They had every attribute of being human but there was something missing.
As I entered this dark realm, I had about a minute to get my bearings and try to figure out what was happening to me. Thought-brewing questions rapidly spilled out of my mind--questions that I did not say out loud, but were being answered anyway. Random "people" in the crowd would scream out answers in the distance, as if they could read my mind. The first question, of course, being, "What is this place?" "Hell!! Mutha Fucka!! Where do you think you're at?" came from a man in the distance on a balcony of sorts. In utter shock and disbelief, I thought to myself, "This must be a dream. This can't be real." Echoes of laughter came from afar.
Maybe not wanting the answers, but I could not help questioning what was taking place. “Not me!” was another thought that raced through my head, as I believe the gravity of the situation was beginning to fall on my shoulders. "Where do you think they send angry fuckin’ drunks when they die, dumbass?" came from a broken-down man standing about 10 feet in front of me. His words were condescending but his tone was resolute. I was frozen! The purest and most disturbing form of shock I have ever felt. At that moment I realized that nobody was saying anything verbally, but they were speaking to me inside my head.
I trembled as I tried to back away from the ensuing chaos, as if to say, “I am not a part of this,” but found there was nowhere to go. There was a barrier of pitch-black darkness, darker and denser than the midnight sky surrounding this God-barren landscape. As I got closer to the darkness, I felt my body being repelled back from it like the same pole of two magnets meeting each other for the first time. It was impossible! I was stuck! You know the feeling you get when you get caught doing something you know was wrong? Well, imagine that same feeling multiplied exponentially due to the fact that I was reaping what I had sowed for an entire lifetime. “Fuck me,” is a vast understatement compared to the raw emotion that was crawling up the spine of my soul. I found myself in the harshest of environments, and I was bare, empty, frightened and exposed. There are no words that can encapsulate the most dreadful feeling that I have ever felt with a single thought. "It's over!" Oh, even now it makes me want to throw up. Not only will I never see my loved ones again, but The God whom I loved throughout my life doesn't want me. My lifelong assumption that I wasn't worthy was now verified.
And just when I thought things couldn't get worse, they did. The questioning was over. Now it was playtime for me and my new friends. In the blink of an eye, every piercing white eye turned on me and in a menacing manner, the unruly mob started creeping towards me. I knew it was on and I wasn't ready for it. For any of it. They started the attack with random items. Shoes and shirts and such. Whipping me with what felt like a wet towel sting as I pleaded with them. "No, not me. Please. Not me. I don't deserve this.” Their devious smiles and heckling laughter just added to the terror. It was as if it was just a game to them. And this was just the beginning and they were just warming up. I was surrounded by as many people as can encircle you at once and as far as the eye can see. I ducked and dodged as I ran through the crowd but the more I ran the worse things got.
It was like a video game, as you go up from the first level to the second, the game gets harder and harder. And here, wherever here is, things go from bad to worse with every step. The shoes and shirts turned into sticks and clubs. The sticks and clubs turned into bats and pipes. The level of pain obviously increased but it did not come close to the pain you would feel getting hit with a bat or a pipe on earth. I guess in order for this hellish game to continue it had to be that way. The only thing I could do was pick up whatever I could find and start hitting back. The speed at which everybody could move was unheard of. They ran like track stars, threw blows like boxers, while wielding weapons like warriors. Things moved at such a fast pace! And from what I could see, a lot of the "people" loved what they were doing. There was pure pleasure in the violence!
What could I do but try to defend myself and fight back, but there were so many of them and I was the freshest "meat" on the market and the Vultures were picking away every bit of my "carcass." It was relentless. Birds of a feather truly flock together in the hereafter.
If I didn't come across this little girl (angel), who could only have been 3 or 4 years old, I know I wouldn't be here writing this right now. In the middle of the chaos, and I was in the thick of it, a still, small voice captured my attention. "Hey," is all she said and that was enough to stop me dead in my tracks. What really intrigued me when I looked at her face was that she was the only one amongst millions who had one beautiful baby blue eye and one pure white eye like the rest, as if she could see in both worlds. Behind her was a giant man around 12 foot tall who she referred to as "the King" who was paying no mind to me at all. The attacks seemed to come to a halt as I listened to this little child say, "I know who you are!" Puzzled, “What?” I thought. "You’re J… W… C..." “How do you know that?” I asked her, keeping in mind all communication was being transferred mind to mind. Her calmness gave me solace for that brief moment. She said, "You haven't been here that long; you can still go back."
A feeling I had already lost and probably forgotten about slowly returned. Hope! “How?” was my only question! She said, "You have to feel it! Feel being back where you were before you got here.” Since I was still in what seemed to be a silhouette of my hospital gown and still having the pain in the area of my pancreas, I knew exactly where I had come from. “Go,” she said emphatically. As if "time" was running out. Those were her final words to me, and my brief moment of solace turned right back into mayhem as the bats and pipes came raining back down upon me. I pushed and shoved and ran as fast as I could, punching my way through the crowd, yearning for the darkness that I could see in the not so far distance. Nothing or nobody was going to stop me, no matter how hard they tried. And believe me, they were giving it their all.
I began to feel the repellent force of the Darkness pushing me back as I got closer to the border. It got so strong that I fell to my knees fighting a force I could not see. Pushing and crawling, further and further, as I'm being pulled back by what felt like a hundred hands scraping and clawing over every inch of my body. Feeling complete exhaustion begin to set it, I gave one last plunge out into the darkness. I closed my eyes and with every fiber of my being imagined and tried to feel being back on the hospital bed. I opened my eyes to complete darkness. It's not working! It's not working! Laughter and screams pierced my heart. I scurried maybe just a few inches back into a force of darkness I've never felt and laid on my back trying to recreate and will myself back into that hospital bed.
Maybe ten seconds had passed before I even had the courage to open them to see if I had crossed back over and to my utter shock and undeniable amazement, I found myself looking up through the sheet in the hospital. My heart literally felt like it kick-started back up and I sat up gasping for air and screaming. The nurses and doctors came running in and I jumped out of the bed ripping my IV out as I tumbled into the medical machines. I tried to explain what had just happened to the doctors but I could tell it was just falling on deaf ears.
The nurses over the next 2 weeks "enjoyed" hearing my experience and gave me as much comfort as they possibly could. The little girl's voice still echoes through my head as I picture being back in that horrific place. I sometimes wonder if I have endured a lifetime of pain just to die and be delivered to a plane designed for more pain. That little Angel knew my name. I ask myself why? Is it already written? I guess only time will give me that answer. Looking back on those lost souls with their haunting white eyes, I feel nothing but sadness. Part of what I think they lost was not only their humanity but mainly their awareness. Their Conscience!
The depth of the reality I faced is equal to the depth of the reality you are facing right now while reading this. Do you think for a second that you are dreaming right now? No? My conviction is just the same!! "The LIGHT shines in the Darkness, and the Darkness comprehended it not." John, Ch. 1