AUGUST 1965

The Konoza boys, aka “The Wild Bunch of Sleepy Hollow Road,” played baseball in their backyard, two doors down from my house.  They were too old and too wild for me to join the game – and really, girls didn’t play baseball in those days – but I loved to hang on the chain link fence and watch.

I don’t remember Joey’s line drive hitting my forehead.  I faintly remember bouncing in someone’s arms as they raced toward my house.  I DO remember – like it happened just yesterday – hovering near the ceiling of my living room, watching the scene below.

My skinny body, dressed in a white seersucker blouse and mint green peddle-pushers, lay very still on the sofa with one arm by my side, the other folded across my stomach.  Mom sat on the sofa by my legs.  Dr. Polowski, the family pediatrician, sat on a chair near my head with his black medical bag opened on the floor by his feet.  His stethoscope was slung around his neck.  It was a silent scene.  Mom and Dr. Polowski spoke back and forth, but I couldn’t hear their words.  Mom was sad.  I could tell because she wiped tears from her face with her lacy handkerchief.

They sat like that for a long time before I slipped out of the room through the high window above the piano.  A cool gentle breeze and the music of soft tinkling bells carried me into a bluish-white light.  I floated in this light for a while … but not long enough.

I don’t remember coming back.  I didn’t dare tell anyone where I had been.  They wouldn’t have believed me anyway.

It took a long time to understand what had happened, and with that understanding came a profound knowing that death is not scary and what comes next is beautiful.

This may account, at least subconsciously, for why I have taken life on so fully: I’m not afraid to die.

This is not to be confused, of course, with wanting more time here on earth.  Because, after all, I’m NOT DONE YET.