Trail of Disappearing-Story 3: Random Stories

        As I near the end of my life, two random events keep popping into my thoughts. I know there is relevance here but I can’t quite grasp what it is. Medications cloud my thinking process. Perhaps if I didn’t need to take the medication, if I could stop, focus would return and I could at least hazard a guess as to what they could be signifying. I’m resting in bed at the moment, looking out a big window at the magnificent red landscape that is Sedona, Arizona. Mystical red spires reach skyward, like ancient beings encased in stone and time worshiping an unseen entity. Gazing at them, I’m reminded of how brief life truly is and how fragile. I’m hooked up to a medical contraption that drips morphine into my veins to help ease the pain that ravages my forty year old body. Cancer. I’ve tried everything out looking for a cure but it is not to be and I have come to accept that. I am at peace with what is before me. I don’t fear death anymore. Not since dreams of a beautiful trail came to comfort me. The dreams reach out with a promise that pain does not contaminate the pathway. Its magnificence offers only love. I am eager to take the trail. 


        The flashbacks are intensifying and I questioning why? The first event involves my very first plane ride. Aunt Cassie died. Her death was sudden and devastating to my mother who was her only sibling. Cassie was Mama’s dearly loved older sister, so we were definitely attending the funeral. Work prevented Daddy from going so only Mama and I would make the trip. I was six then. We flew from Dallas, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona, and there pick up a rental and drove the few hours to Aunt Cassie’s home in Sedona. My aunt was an artist, an oil painter. Her realm was the mystical Red Rock Country. The towering pinnacles inspired her, the sparkling babbling Oak Creek soothed her, the glorious sunrises and sunsets filled her imagination and gave her life purpose. She never returned to Texas. The red canyons and stately pinnacles became her forever home.


        We left a week after the funeral, taking a night flight back to Dallas. Aunt Cassie left a will bequeathing everything to Mama. There were two stipulations in the will: Uncle Fred, her husband, must be allowed to live in the house until his death and the land and house must never be sold. It had to stay in Mama’s family line. That is how I ended up living in Sedona. But what I remember most about the trip was the night flight home and the lights of cities way below us that sparkled in the inky night as the plane flew over them. I found comfort and security seeing those lights. If you ask me why, I would tell you that I don’t have an answer. Air travel and being off the ground frightened me so much that I almost stayed home with Dad. But now, when I close my eyes for a moment to allow the pain to roll over and through me, or if my eyes close in sleep, I might find those glittering lights reaching out to comfort me once again.


        The second event has to do with the unwrapping of a gift sent posthumously  by Aunt Cassie. In a note explaining the late delivery, Uncle Fred said that this painting was being taken to the post office the day Aunt Cassie had died. In his grief, he had placed that boxed painting in her studio and had simply forgotten about it. A few months passed before he had the heart and will to again enter the studio. It was only then that he remembered the painting still resting against a wall. It is a gorgeous painting of Cathedral Rock and Oak Creek in Sedona. When I first opened the package I could have sworn that an enchanting rainbow crowned the formation, but it was not so. Mama swears my imagination went into overdrive that day. Aunt Cassie had not painted a rainbow in the painting. Still, throughout my forty years on this earth, the enchanting rainbow that never was bothered me. The vision returned periodically in flashes, as if something was trying to convince me that what I saw that day was correct. It makes no sense, I know.


        Periodically… until recently. Like the memory of the glittering city lights that sparkled comfort in a scary dark night, the memory of the rainbow intensifies. Are these two childhood events an announcement of imminent death? And why do dreams of the beautiful trail now consistently follow these flashbacks? I do not fear the dreams. I welcome them. The stately trees of the forest, the lovely bright wildflowers that border the winding trail, and the glorious sunlight that warms the land all promise a loving welcome. What is there to fear?


     My beloved husband stands next to my bed, his hand gently caresses my gaunt, weary face. “Do you see the pinnacles in your dreams? Is the landscape red and magical, like in Aunt Cassie’s painting? I love you, you know. I always will.”


It is and it is not. The landscape of the trail is ethereal and of all colors. But I only nod and smile up at him.