The Words of the Weber Family
Awhile ago, I wrote a blog about a little boy's questions about life after death. Recently, I told Sandy Ureta that I had written this story which is about spirit world. She wrote back saying that she wished that I would post this story. Here is part one then. This first part is somewhat sad. But part two takes you on a beautiful trip through spirit world.
I hope that you enjoy it.
Margaret Astor walked slowly through the hallways of Grant School following the music that flowed briskly through the air. Memories came back to her of a time twenty years before when she had walked down these same hallways as a little girl going to her different classes. Oh, to be a girl again, young and full of dreams and hopes! But now she had a thirteen-year-old daughter named Robin who had become a reflection of the same hopes and dreams that she had had as a girl. It was through her daughter that Margaret Astor now lived her dreams.
The music skipped through the hallways, circled, came back and whirled around Mrs. Astor as she approached the door at the end of the hallway. It exploded and shook for joy as the woman opened the door, and it danced in happily behind her as she entered the room.
Margaret Astor smiled and looked at her daughter dancing in the center of the room. Her instructor, Miss Parks stood on the sidelines calling out instructions. "Take it smoothly now! Kick that leg up high! Here comes that difficult part now! Ready… set… spin… and leap! That was beautiful, Robin, simply beautiful!"
Robin gave a squeal of joy! "Oh thank you for staying after school to teach me that step!" she sang as she continued dancing through the room.
Miss Parks laughed. "If all of my students were as eager to learn as you are, I would be willing to stay all night!"
"It would be beautiful to dance all night!" laughed Robin going into another spin. "For me it's more than dancing! Why, I feel like I'm flying!"
The music seemed to take delight in this, for it suddenly began cascading around the room. Now the girl and the music were one. As the music danced, the girls body seemed to flow with it so smoothly that her dance seemed to be a song. Mrs. Astor watched, and her daughter actually did seem to fly, for Robin hardly seemed to be touching the floor. She and the music spun, leaped, and skipped together, and when the dance was over, they both dipped and bowed down low.
"Bravo!" applauded Miss Parks. "Well done Robin! You will have to perform this dance for your mother. She will be very proud of you!"
"Yes, that was very beautiful!" said Mrs. Astor. "…and I am very proud of you!"
Robin got up from her bow and ran over to hug her mother. "Oh mother! You saw it?" she cried. "What do you think? Isn't it a magnificent dance?"
"Absolutely magnificent, Robin," whispered Mrs. Astor. "Are you about ready to go, or do you want to practice more?"
Robin looked over at her instructor. "What do you think, Miss Parks? Should I practice the dance a couple of times more?"
"No," laughed the instructor. "I think we can call it a day. Why don't you go change your clothes?"
Robin gave her mother a quick kiss on the cheek and went dancing across the room. But suddenly the girl stopped dead in her tracks and clutched her chest.
"Robin, what's wrong?" called out her mother.
The girl turned and smiled. "I guess that I just over exerted myself a bit," she said. "I'll be all right." Robin continued walking, opened the door to the locker room and disappeared.
"She has been working very hard," laughed Miss Parks. "I'm surprised that she could keep going so long."
Mrs. Astor smiled. "Yes, she does really pour herself into dancing. I don't know how she does it."
Miss Parks walked over to the locker room. "I'll have her out to you in a few minutes," she said disappearing through the door. Inside she found Robin sitting on a bench breathing heavily. "Honey, what's wrong? Are you sick?"
"Just tired, I guess," smiled Robin.
Miss Parks sat down next to Robin and wrapped her arms around the girl. Robin sat silently trying to catch her breath. Her heart was pounding so loud that it seemed to resound through her head. Now, as she sat in Miss Park's embrace, the pounding got less intense and she began breathing more easily.
"Poor baby," said Miss Parks. "You really wore yourself out, didn't you?"
That evening after Robin went to bed, Mrs. Astor sat down in the living room and got out a catalog. Already presents had been bought; but today had been special and it called for a special type of gift.
Mrs. Astor heard footsteps coming down from upstairs and she quickly closed the catalog. But it was Winston, Robin's little ten-year-old brother. "I thought you would have been asleep long ago," said Mrs. Astor.
Winston came the rest of the way down the steps. "Bathroom…" he said simply, and walked over to his mother. He looked at the catalog and smiled knowingly.
"Tell me, Winston," said Mrs. Astor. "Do you think Robin will like this?" She opened the catalog to reveal a picture of a girl about Robin's age in a beautiful pink ballet dress.
Winston looked at the picture in a very serious and thoughtful way. Then he smiled. "She'll think it's super!" he whispered.
The next day Robin got to her dancing class early and was already warming up when the other girls began arriving. She had been feeling a bit weak all day and was worried that she might not be able to dance as well as the day before. "The thing to do," she thought, "is to get there early. That way, I'll be ready to go before the class starts."
But, as Robin went through her warm up exercises her legs began to give way beneath her, and she had to steady herself on the railing.
"You feelin' OK Robin?" asked one of the girls joining her next to the bar. "You don't look so good."
Robin straightened herself up and stood straight. "Yeah, sure. I'm feelin' fine." Continuing to exercise, Robin felt her heart starting to pound the way it had been doing the day before.
"Good afternoon girls," said Miss Parks coming into the room, "I see everyone is warming up. Good. Very good!"
As Miss Parks walked by, Robin steadied herself on the bar and continued exercising. Now it seemed as if her heartbeat was resounding through her whole head. Again her legs gave way beneath her and she fell to a kneeling position clutching desperately to the bar.
"Robin! What's wrong?" cried another girl.
But Robin couldn't respond. There was an intense pain in her chest and she found it very painful to breathe.
The other girls were screaming now. "Miss Parks! Something's wrong with Robin!"
The room began swimming in front of Robin's eyes. She felt someone grab her by the shoulders, and looking around she saw Miss Parks kneeling next to her.
"Robin, honey! What's wrong?" trembled Miss Parks.
"Help…" gasped Robin. "Please help me!"
The room went black and Robin collapsed into Miss Parks' arms.
Sirens! She heard sirens! "I wonder if it's a fire engine or an ambulance," thought Robin. She felt as if she was rocking back and forth. Was she moving? What was going on? She tried rolling over; but she seemed to be wrapped up in something and she couldn't move.
"It's all right little girl," whispered a voice. "Everything is going to be all right."
"Her mother was notified," said another voice. "She's going to meet us at the hospital."
"Hospital?" moaned Robin. "Is someone sick?"
"Yes, little girl," said the first voice. "Someone is sick."
More voices… Busy voices hurrying to and fro. There was a bell ringing and someone was speaking over a nearby speaker, "Dr. West. Please come to the emergency ward immediately!"
Robin heard people bustling around her. "This is the Astor girl," said a woman's voice. "She collapsed during dancing class."
Silence… then there was a cold object being placed on different parts of her chest.
"Heart attack…" whispered a voice. "…a serious one too!"
"Heart attack?" thought Robin. "But don't those only happen to old people?"
When Robin woke up, the first thing she became aware of was the color white. She lay flat on her back looking up at a white ceiling. Turning her head, she saw white walls. The table next to her bed was white. The sheets and blankets covering her were white. A woman entered the room and smiled at her. She was also dressed in white.
"Hello, Robin," the woman said.
Robin closed her eyes. "Hello," she said keeping her eyes tightly shut.
"Are your eyes bothering you?" the woman asked.
"I think I'm still dreaming," muttered Robin. "Everything I see is white!"
The woman laughed. "That's because you're in a hospital."
Robin opened her eyes and looked around. "A hospital? What am I doing here?"
"You've been a very sick little girl," said the woman gently bending over and stroking Robin's hair. "But, you're all right now. Your mother has been waiting to see you. Would you like me to call her in?"
Robin lay silently for a moment studying the woman's face. Finally she smiled and nodded her head. "Yes," she said. "I would like that very much."
As the woman left, Robin looked around at the white room again. "Boy, this place wouldn't win any decorating awards," she sighed.
Soon Mrs. Astor walked in followed closely by Winston. Robin smiled and was about to say hello; but there was something in the expression on her mother's face that bothered her. With great difficulty, Robin maintained her smile and looked around the room again. "I was just lying here thinking what this room would look like with a polka-dot ceiling," she giggled.
Winston looked up, and his eyes widened to three times their normal size. "Cool!" he said.
Mrs. Astor laughed softly and walked over to her daughter. "You two would make quite the interior decorators," she said.
Robin relaxed. The troubled look in her mother's eyes was gone. "Hi mother," she said.
"Hi, honey," said Mrs. Astor. "How are you feeling?"
Robin tilted her head to one side, "Sort of groggy," she said. "What happened to me anyway?"
"You just got very sick in dancing class," said her mother sitting down in a chair.
"Yeah!" said Winston walking up. "Really sick!"
"Winston! Hush!" Mrs. Astor's voice trembled. "Miss Parks sends her love. She wants me to call her when you are well enough to have visitors."
"Mother…" whispered Robin. "What's wrong with me?"
Mrs. Astor lowered her head and closed her eyes. "The doctor says that there is a problem with your heart that they hadn't discovered before. You were pushing yourself too hard while dancing, and your heart just couldn't keep up. We've been very worried about you the last couple of days."
"Last couple of days…?" Robin whispered.
Mrs. Astor tried desperately to hold back the tears. "It was only a few hours ago that they told me you were out of danger."
Robin gave a long, deep sigh and looked around the room again. "I guess that I'm going to be here awhile," she said in a matter of fact way.
Now Mrs. Astor broke down and cried. "Oh, when is it going to end?" she wept. "First your father passes away, and now you get sick! How much do we have to go through?"
Robin reached out and touched her mother's hand. "It's all right. What was it Father used to tell us? He said that it doesn't matter what we go through. Love lasts beyond all hardships, and as long as we have love there is always hope!"
Mrs. Astor shook her head. "Your father was always a dreamer. But where are those dreams of his now that he's gone?"
"I believe in them," said Robin.
Mrs. Astor got up and walked toward the door. "Well, I don't. I stopped dreaming years ago. I'll see you tomorrow, honey. Come Winston. Let's go home.
"Mother?" Robin called out. But her mother and brother were already out the door. "Mother!" she cried out again lifting herself into a sitting position. Her heart was beating wildly. "Mother! Please come back!"
A nurse walked into the room. "Robin, you shouldn't be sitting up!" She walked over and lowered the girl back into bed.
Robin was crying now. "Mother! Please come back! Please don't give up hope!" She ignored the pain that she felt rising in her chest.
"Robin," said the nurse. "You shouldn't be getting so excited!"
Suddenly the girl's body stiffened and she began gasping for breath.
"Oh my God!" whispered the nurse. Quickly she pressed an emergency button next to the bed and then got out a syringe. An orderly rushed into the room and without looking up from what she was doing the nurse said, "Call Doctor West immediately. She's having another heart attack!"
Robin closed her eyes. With each beat of her heart pain surged through her body. She felt a needle go into her arm, and it seemed as if something cool and soothing began flowing toward her heart. But before the coolness reached it's destination, the violent, painful beating stopped!
Now all was quiet, and it seemed to Robin as if she was floating. In the distance she thought she could hear muffled voices.
"Her heart stopped beating!" a woman said.
Then a man spoke. "She's not responding to the heart massage!"
The voices began fading and getting more distant as the talking continued. Finally the man's voice said, "It's no use. She's gone! Someone better go out and tell her mother."
"Her mother left the hospital moments before this happened," said the woman. "We weren't able to catch her in time."
Then Robin could hear no more.
It was late that afternoon when Mrs. Astor and Winston got out of the car in front of their home. They each grabbed an armload of boxes and bags and began walking toward the door.
"We may have to celebrate Robin's birthday a little late," said Mrs. Astor. "But when she comes home we're going to have the biggest and most beautiful party ever!"
"I thought you had already bought presents for her," said Winston.
"Well, these are special presents," said Mrs. Astor. "After all, we will be celebrating her coming home as well as her birthday. Oh my! Listen! The telephone is ringing in the house! Winston, open my purse and get the key out! My hands are too full."
The boy set his boxes down and got out the key. Once the door was open, Mrs. Astor rushed in, set down her boxes, and picked up the phone.
"Hello, Mrs. Astor," said a voice on the other end of the line. "This is Doctor West at the hospital. We've been trying to get you all afternoon! It's about Robin…"
The next few days were like a blur for Mrs. Astor. Friends came to express their condolences about Robin's death, but she was only vaguely aware of their coming and going. One of her neighbors came to help her with the housework and to take Winston to and from school. Pastor Stevens was also there, and with his help preparations were made for the funeral. It all went so quickly that it wasn't until the funeral was over that the events of the past few days started falling into place in Mrs. Astor's memory.
"Robin is gone," she said walking up to Pastor Stevens.
"No, my child," said the Pastor. "A person's spirit never dies. Your daughter is still alive."
Mrs. Astor hardly heard what he said. "Robin was growing into the girl that I had always dreamed of becoming. All of my hopes and dreams just died with her. Now I have nothing left."
"But, you have your son, Winston," said the Pastor. "Your dreams can be realize through him."
"No," said Mrs. Astor taking Winston's hand and walking toward the car. "I can't dream any more! It hurts too much!"
Pastor Stevens said something, but she did not hear it. She did not want to hear it! Quickly she walked away from him. Reaching the car she opened the door and then stopped. She had heard another voice…a little girl's voice! "Mother!" it had said. "Mother!"
Mrs. Astor looked around. There were many people still back at the grave site, but no one was nearby now. She waited and listened.
A gust of wind shook the leaves of a nearby tree and blew shifting patterns in the grass next to her feet…and with the wind came the voice. "Mother!" it cried again. "Please don't give up hope!"
She felt Winston's hand twisting in her grasp. He had heard the voice as well.
The wind blew again. "What was it Father used to tell us? He said that love lasts beyond all hardships, and as long as we have love, there is always hope!"
Winston pulled at his mother's hand. "It's Robin!" he cried. "That's Robin's voice!"
Quickly Mrs. Astor grabbed hold of her son and lifted him into the car. Then she paused before getting in herself and looked around… searching.
"Don's give up hope," whispered the voice in the wind. "Please, for my sake as well as yours, don't give up hope!"
For hours Mrs. Astor wandered around the house beginning various chores only to leave them uncompleted and begin something else. Finally she stopped and stood in the center of the living room and looked around. She was completely alone. Some friends were taking care of Winston, and she had turned down a neighbor's offer for help with her chores. Now the house just seemed quiet, empty, and lifeless. Slowly Mrs. Astor went to the closet and put on her coat. She spent the next hour driving around idly from place to place going anywhere yet nowhere, and she soon found herself parked in front of Grant School. She didn't remember driving there and sat looking around for a few minutes. Then she slowly got out and walked into the school.
Music drifted around her as she walked through the hallways. The melody sounded familiar. What was it? Suddenly she remembered and stopped walking. It was the music that Robin had been dancing to when she was practicing after school. Mrs. Astor turned and took a step in the direction that the music was coming from, and the melody got louder and clearer. At the end of the hall she paused at the door to Miss Park's dancing class. It was here that the music seemed to be coming from. Touching the door she paused uncertainly, and then she pushed it open. The music stopped and Mrs. Astor found herself in a silent empty room wondering if she had really heard anything of if it had all been her imagination.
At that moment the dressing room door opened and Miss Parks walked out. "Why Mrs. Astor," she said. "What a pleasant surprise!"
Mrs. Astor continued looking around the room and sighed. "This was Robin's favorite class," she said.
"Yes, she was my favorite pupil," said Miss Parks walking forward. "We all miss her very much. She was always so cheerful and full of hope."
"Yes," said Mrs. Astor lowering her head. "She was rather childish in that one way."
"Childish?" Miss Parks couldn't help but express her surprise. "Whatever do you mean? I always felt that those were her finest qualities."
"Oh, they are fine qualities," Mrs. Astor said shaking her head. "But she was too unrealistic. No matter how hard I tried, I could never get her to grow up and face reality. The world is a hard place with a lot of suffering and hardships. Life isn't as idealistic as she perceived it to be. Yet no matter how often I tried to explain these things to Robin, she always held on to that childish optimism. Not only that, she kept trying to cheer me up…telling me not to lose hope in life."
Miss Parks listened in disbelief. Finally she said, "Mrs. Astor, please forgive me for saying this. I know how you feel because I have spoken with many parents who feel just as you do. So many parents instill ideals in their children's lives and encourage them to live up to them until they reach their teens. But after that, if they don't give up these ideals and take a more 'adult' view of life, they worry about how the children will get along in the 'real' world. And whey the children challenge them for not living up to their ideals, the parents resent it." She looked sternly at Mrs. Astor. "Yet, is it really childish to hold on to ideals? Are those who do soft? Or are they really the courageous ones, the ones with determination to succeed…the ones with the adult viewpoint?"
Mrs. Astor stepped back and put her hand to her face thoughtfully. Then she shook her head and turned toward the door. "Please excuse me," she said softly. "I must go pick up Winston for dinner."
Late that night Winston looked out of his bedroom door. He had heard his mother come upstairs to Robin's room, and she had been there for quite some time. The door was still open slightly and he could see his mother holding up a girl's ballet dress just like the one that she had shown him in the catalog. Letting out a long sigh, Winston went back into his room and closed the door.
Mrs. Astor lay the ballet dress down on the bed and looked over at Robin's desk. There she saw some snapshots of Robin in the very first dancing class that she had taken. Robin had put them together in a large folding frame and had set them next to a book on ballet dancing.
"Mother," said a voice.
Mrs. Astor looked around nervously, then she turned and walked toward the door.
"Please listen to me!" said the voice. "Please don't shut me out!"
Mrs. Astor stopped in the doorway. She did not turn back toward the room, but continued looking out into the hallway. "No Robin," she said shaking her head. "I don't hear you. There is no hope or happiness like you spoke of. You're dead. All there is now is a memory, and nothing more." With that she walked out of the room and down the stairs.
Moments later Winston looked out of his room again. Quietly he crept across the hallway into Robin's room where he began looking around. Memories began coming back to him of good times that he and Robin had shared together. He remembered walks that they had taken in the park, games they had played, and parties that they had gone to.
Suddenly a shadow moved across the room as if someone had just come up behind him, and Winston turned around quickly expecting to find his mother standing there. But there was no one else in the room and the boy gave a sigh of relief. He was about to turn around again when he heard a voice.
"Hi Winston," said a girl's voice. "How 'ya doin'?"
The boy stood in silence looking around the room. There was no one there. He began edging his way toward the door. "I didn't hear that," he whispered. "I don't believe in ghosts!'
A gust of wind came out of nowhere and blew the door shut. "I am not a ghost!" said the voice sternly.
"You could sure fool me!" said the boy stammering in fright. "I gotta be going now!" With this Winston opened the door again and started to walk out of the room.
"Please don't turn me away," said the voice. "Mother already has!"
Winston stopped and looked around. Now he saw Robin standing in the center of the room. She was wearing a white dress…and she seemed to be transparent! Winston could see right through her! The boy swallowed. "You can't be real!"
Tears streamed down Robin's face. "Darn it, Winston," she wept. "I'm as real as you are! You're just too scared to admit it. You have always felt that you were so brave. Now you are afraid of a ghost, and a girl ghost at that!"
Winston cleared his throat and stood up straight trying to show his bravery. "Well, okay," he said. "I'll talk with you, even though I don't believe you are real. Anyway, how can you be there if you are dead?"
Robin wiped the tears out of her eyes. "You and mother just must realize that there is no such thing as an end to life. Even though I don't have a body anymore, as a living being, I still exist! Do you believe me? Will you help me?"
Winston swallowed hard. "Anything you say, Robin!"