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Friday, October 4, 2013

#Heaven. I'm in heaven. by John von Daler

                My father and I stood in waist-high water and talked about everything and nothing. The warm, Oklahoma weekends were made for hanging out at the pool, lying in the sun, small talking.

                In the softly lapping water I could see kaleidoscopic snapshots of the people lying around the edge of the pool. Children ran by screaming and jumped into the light green water, splashing all these sunbathers while they in turn groaned and complained, never moving though from their singularly vulnerable positions. We were all in this together you could say and nobody was about to give up.
                I was watching to see if I could track some of my twelve-year-old friends in the mirroring waves when Dad pointed at the bottom of the pool. Four feet in front and below us a teenage boy was swimming along the bottom, arms outstretched, legs and feet all frogged out. We watched a while through the splashing, lapping water until Dad said, Hey! He's not moving! and dived head first towards the bottom. Moments later he came up with the limp and motionless boy in his arms and dragged him through the water to the edge of the pool. The sunbathers jumped up and helped pull the boy up and over the water trough and onto almost dry land.
                The lifeguard came running and started to work on the boy. Water sputtered out of the kid's mouth, but his eyes stayed shut.
                "Why'd ya move me," he said in a low whisper. "Why'd ya do it? It was wonderful, so wonderful!"
                Years later a man in a hospital ward in England described for all to hear how he momentarily had been in a heaven with long paths through freshly mowed grass, statues on pedestals and benches beside beds of flowers.
                Does each of us have our own heaven, some quintessence of whatever sense of beauty we have gained through the lives we have lived? Are some of our dead now abiding in Ford Impalas, while others attend a never-ending opera even as someone else swims in a blue grotto and others are being tattooed or breast-fed or flown through a cloud or, like me, are sitting with a piece of cheese and a glass of wine looking out across a bay and talking, listening, thinking, guessing, imagining.


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