Edna's Last Day On Earth: Part 1
Edna stared at the off-white popcorn ceiling with different eyes than she went to bed with the night before. She never really dreamt. Her slumber was just as boring as her waking life. But last night was different. She had dreamt, and it wasn’t just a regular go to the grocery store with a monkey-kind of dream; it was more of a meeting with God. She wasn’t too sure how she felt about him most of her life; some years, she thought, he’s probably up there watching on a big screen; others, she felt he had left the room.
Last night Edna did her usual nightly routine: dinner on the couch with some sort of cooking show, leaving comments on all the new posts made by her nieces and nephews on Facebook, taking a long shower, and getting into bed. More recently, she’s named one thing she’s grateful for as she closes her eyes (she learned that from a video on Facebook) and drifts off to sleep. On this night, Edna was grateful for the slice of chocolate pie she ate after dinner.
She found herself in a beautiful park, and she thought, “Oh, this is the park I go to every Sunday.” Looking around, she notices that the plants and shrubbery are even more captivating than usual, almost glowing. She begins her walk on the paved path of the park and comes across a family of white ducks crossing, the mother in the front and the ducklings in a single-file line trailing behind. “I thought ducklings were yellow? That’s a bit strange,” she thought. She was curious about these rare ducklings, so she stepped off the path and followed them to the nearby pond.
She watched the beaked family topple into the water, flapping and quacking, and noticed an almost iridescent glimmer reflecting off the water. Edna’s lips pursed as leaned forward to better investigate the source. “Are their feathers shimmering? What a rare species of Duck I have come across. How delightful!” she thought.
Just as Edna might lean far enough to fall into the pond herself, she hears a voice say, “Hi Edna, it’s so nice to see you.”
She stumbles with one foot in front of the other to stabilize herself and turns to see a young boy with beautiful blonde hair in a white t-shirt and pants. Before Edna could respond, she felt in her heart that she knew this boy to be her family. She did not understand in what way, just that they were familial.
Edna found herself walking toward the boy without much thought and stopped at arm’s length, bent down at waist height, and connected her forehead to his while closing her eyes.
Light began to fill her body, every inch in glowing bright white light. She felt consumed by it, though it had happened too fast for her to resist. Edna began to cry. She felt the tears run down her face even though she had forgotten she and the boy were still connected, and she basked in what felt like the warmest embrace from God. “So this is what they’re talking about,” she thought.
She then opened her eyes to find herself in bed, and she took a moment to acclimate to her surroundings. She clasped her hands together and placed them on her chest, and whispered, “Thank you.”
Edna bounced out of bed with more energy than she’s had in a decade and pranced to the bathroom to brush her teeth. She glided her aged hands over her crow’s feet and tasseled her curly grey tendrils with two hands to give it volume, but not too much. “I have always been deserving of love,” she thought. Edna had never thought that before, and she giggled at this new epiphany.
She made herself coffee in a large French press that her 25-year-old niece got her for Christmas and checked her cell phone. As usual, there were no messages, but she had noticed that today was Sunday – Edna’s favorite day of the week. On Sunday, she did all of her favorite things, like visiting her usual coffee shop and feeding the ducks at the park before sitting under a tree to read a book. She was just about to finish up “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and though she had to put another book cover over it to save her the embarrassment, she couldn’t put it down.
After a ten-minute drive in her ten-year-old Subaru Outback, she arrived at Sophie’s Cafe, the only coffee shop in town that didn’t make Edna feel out of place. She sat at the diner-style bar counter, and Kristina, the owner’s daughter, walked over, saying, “Good morning, Edna! Did you do something different with your hair today? You look so radiant.”
“I had a really good night’s sleep, the best I’ve ever had,” Edna replied. “Well, it definitely shows. Would you like your usual this morning?” Kristina asked.
“An orange juice and a blueberry muffin that’s been cut in half and grilled with butter, yes,” Edna said.
She loved getting their fresh pressed orange juice. It gave her a different boost than her coffee. Kristina comes over and places the warm muffin in front of Edna and smiles before greeting another customer.
Edna almost never sits on her phone when she is out by herself because she likes to talk to people. She will talk up anyone who is beside her at the bar that hasn’t given strong cues to leave them alone or gets to know the workers. She was always craving connection, and even though she felt herself to be quite social, the connection was few and far between. As she pondered this, she found herself lost in the flavor of her muffin. She closed her eyes and observed its fluffy texture that seemed to melt into her tastebuds. She ate slowly, dedicating herself fully to each bite, like reading the climax of a novel, absorbing every word, and flipping the pages with intent.
“Mama, I eat like that too!” Edna heard a little voice say.
She turned to see a five-year-old boy, blonde just like in her dream, sitting beside her with his mother. He was pointing at Edna’s muffin, smiling, and Edna burst into laughter. The realization that she was caught red-handed in her euphoria made her feel so exposed, but the boy reminded her she is seen. Tears welled in her eyes with the joy of this interaction, “Connection,” she thought.
She paid cash for her heavenly meal and made her way to the park. There was street parking available right at the entrance she prefers, and she slid into the spot quickly as if there was competition for it.
With her imposter book in hand, she entered the gates of her personal haven. She particularly favored the early morning sun, when it’s high enough to warm you up but dipped enough to reflect on surfaces to blind your eyes and touch your heart. She felt the sun would hug her in this way. Direct sunlight felt more like an excited toddler hanging on your pant leg. She didn’t want to be completely overwhelmed by the heat, she wanted the space to feel it without losing her losing herself.
She could hear the woodpeckers out to work, the cicada’s mating, and the birds conversing. It was a busy day, and she felt like had just joined the joyous preparations of something bigger than herself.
She sat at a metal bench that was fastened to the brick pathway with a small dedication plaque that said, “In loving memory of Henry Birch, 1950 – 2014.” Edna calculated the age, as most do with these things, only to realize it was 64, and today was her birthday. “How in the world could it slip my mind that today was my birthday? Am I still dreaming?”