Originally uploaded by my.third.eye
It was New Year's Eve 2007, around 5:30 p.m. and up on the hill, people out walking to celebrate the cusp of yet another chance for a new beginning were grabbing their cameras, trying to capture even one-tenth of a fraction of the moment: the appearance of a huge hole in the sky. . . or, rather, a hole in the blanket of clouds that had taken on the hot pink and coral color of the fiery sunset that was going on behind them.
Sharon was as mesmerized as everyone else. Then she saw the three familiar faces. They had entered through the hole and now hovered in the air nearby. Her angels.
She was feeling testy and possibly even depressed. The breast cancer diagnosis had scared her, needless to say, and still did.
"You aren't the only one who has suffered," she snapped at Leland, her baby brother (eight years her junior when he was alive, but he'd only made it to forty).
Leland grinned. "It's the luck of the draw, Sharie! AIDS for me, a breast lump for you. But at least you're still kickin'."
Sometimes she could go for relatively long periods without talking to her dead family members, but she knew she would never be able to entirely avoid them. She felt fairly certain that a host of other angels was stirring up the whole city, or at least anyone who was watching this hole-in-the-sky sunset, but she found no comfort, really, in numbers.
"I wasn't any more ready to throw in the towel than you are, Sharie," her mother chimed in, "but I died despite my best efforts."
"Hi Mom. I know. Your ovarian cancer was a big fat drag. Sixty-six was way too young."
"What did you do to your hair, Sharie? I'm so glad you decided to go back to coloring the gray, but I'm not sure about that new dye. Henna, you call it? It's not a bad color red, but it's flattening out your curl. I think you'd be better off if you just stuck with the Clairol."
The hole in the glowing sky remained open. Her mother, done with the subject of hair, turned her attention to Sharon's father. "John, put out that cigarette and tell us, what do YOU think about this crazy hole in the middle of the sky that we just traveled through? Do you still call yourself an agnostic NOW?"
Her father, who had made it to 83, sipped his screwdriver. "I can't say with any certainty, Bobbie, that the answer to the question of whether there is a God is any clearer to me now than it was before my aneurysm. Yes, I appreciate that we seem to have been given some sort of second wind here, but what's behind it, I still can't say. Could be aliens at work. Could be I'm having a hallucination. I'll tell you one thing, though. I got to meet J. Edgar Hoover last week, and I enjoyed the hell out of that."
"Good Lord, John," said her mother.
The ghost of her baby brother gave Sharon a wink as he smoothed the ripples in his black leather chaps. She couldn't help but smile.
Meanwhile, the angels were leaving evidence of themselves left and right, a fact that she had no idea how to interpret; she guessed she saw eye-to-eye with her father on that.
Life just kept setting up these panoramas of drama and mystery. Today, it had sent droves of angels barreling down through a gaping hole in the flaming San Francisco sky, bringing with them the scent of fresh-baked bread, enough to feed an entire tribe of believers, nonbelievers, and agnostics.