Many years ago, long before she passed, my mother used to hum an old rhyme each evening, as she washed our dishes in the sink. She sang, hummed or whistled it for as long as I can remember. It went something like this: "Close your eyes darling and count to seven, once you awaken you'll be safe in heaven."
Finally, for the very first and very last time in my dwindling life, I understand my mother's ancient melody. Seven seconds of life stretch across an infinity of memories, right after death. I close my eyes, waiting for my seven to finally, arrive. I've lived a long life, and although I did not know it until now, I've waited long for my Seven Seconds Till Heaven to overtake me.
Seven Seconds Remaining: My mother's warm, embrace, holding me close to her bosom as I cry over a scraped knee. Overpowering, the scent of lilac that mysteriously wandered around my childhood home, fills my lungs. My first injury, a mother's Embrace. Date: April 15th 1930.
Six Seconds Remaining: My middle school school yard flits across my line of vision. Dusty books, strict teachers, giggling girls hitching their skirts up mischievously when the teacher's back was turned. A flash of white teeth. A boy's flirty smile. My little heart crashing around wildly inside the cage that held it, daring a glance at the young boy who had stolen my heart. A first love. A first school yard. Date: January 03 1934.
Five Seconds Remaining: Terrifying headlines printed in bold. Deaths scrolled across a letter in loopy, rushed handwriting. Stars in windows. Women in black. Naive boys leaving home, and barely returning half the man they could have been. My father leaving. My mother whimpering, stifling sobs in the darkness of night. Clouded fear, untrustworthy headlines, nazi spies everywhere. War is hell. Date: November 23rd 1939.
Four Seconds Remaining: An elegant chapel looming before me. A dashing suitor waiting for me inside. Lucious flowers braided into my hair. Flowing white satin tied neatly around me. Bliss in the air. My mother's watery smile as I tentatively step down the isle. An empty seat next to my mother full of memories of the only man who's ever been in my life up until this moment. The ghost of a man left behind me as my man stands before me. My wedding day. Date: June 14 1944.
Three Seconds Remaining: Pain. Excruciating pain. Sparks cloud my vision; blackness envelops me, and then the most beautiful sound I've ever heard graces my ears: a cry. A baby's first cry. A radiant twinkling sound, and I am happy. Exhaustion overtakes me, by a lingering happiness remains. My firstborn son. Date: October 18 1950.
Two Seconds Remaining: Rocking chairs on a porch and family visiting on a humid summer's day. My grandchildren racing around the front yard, laughing as they toss a ball to and fro. My husband chuckles beside me as he watched our only daughter chase her son around mailbox. My last family reunion. Date: August 09 1996
One Second Remaining: The for sale sign in front of my house of 49 years being pitched. My son and daughter weeping over me as they drive me one final time to the nursing home. Bitter sweet goodbyes, exchanges of love and memories. A wish to see my husband again, to be by his side. Two final kisses. My last goodbye. Date: September 12 1999.
Zero Seconds Remaining: Darkness envelops me. The buzzing sound that has plagued me for ages disappears. My eyes open and close once more in an eternity of a blink. A tune wafts into my mind one final time as the world slips away forever, "Close your eyes darling and count to seven, once you awaken you'll be safe in heaven." I smile, and death overtakes me.
My death. Date: December 05 1999: