Searing pain squeezed my chest as I struggled to breathe. Let it be over, I begged silently. I'm so tired. My wish was finally granted and I was floating over my withered, old body.
The pain was gone and I was finally free. My earthly feelings of jealousy, hate, pity, entitledness and vanity peeled off and left only acceptance, serenity and love behind.
The tranquil feeling enveloped me as if I was wrapped in a comforting blanket. Basking in the brilliant white light I floated up in the familiar, wide tunnel. My memories slowly surfaced and by the time I reached the end of the long tunnel and floated into the beautiful gathering place, I remembered every single lifetime I lived.
"Welcome home Tiana," the familiar, soft voice in my head greeted me with my real name that was given to me so long ago. A large group souls surrounded and greeted me with loving embrace. Their gentle touch gave me pure joy. I saw my parents from many lifetimes along with my children, relatives, and friends.
"Finally you’re home," came the thought of my soulmate from the crowd. The souls parted to make way for him. "I’ve been waiting for you for so long."
"I missed you so much, Joland," I projected my thoughts. "I couldn’t find you and I was so lonely without you."
"My last lifetime was too short, only fifteen earthly years," he sent me his loving thoughts and longing vibes. "I love you so much! Come, I have so many memories to share with you."
We floated toward our beautiful, comfortable home that we shared while we both waited to be reborn again.
Finally, after spending a long life without him, we had a chance again to embrace in the purest form of lovemaking. We held each other in silence for a long time, floating in the warm light and enjoying our reunion.
"How was your life, my love? Would you show me?" Joland asked.
"It was too long," I showed him a mental picture of my last life.
My short childhood years were uneventful, so I started with my wedding day that was a sad occasion because my parents married me off young. I didn't love my husband but I learned to respect him over the years. We struggled and he worked very hard to provide for our growing family. He died in the war and I was left alone to raise ten children. Sadly, after all that struggle and hard time, I outlived them all and I died alone in a nursing home.
"Sorry, love. My last, short life wasn't happy either," Joland replied sadly.
He showed me a mental picture of a young boy who was abused by his brother from the time he turned nine, until his fifteenth birthday when he gathered the courage and strength and stabbed his brother to death. His father was heartbroken over the death of his favorite first born and shot Joland in the head, killing him.
We recalled happier lives for a while and then a group of souls we've connected with through so many lifetimes and resting periods, came over to visit us.
"How was your life since I’ve seen you?" I asked Kira, who was a cook in King Tut's court when I was a dressmaker.
Kira replied, "I haven’t been sent back for a long time, but I didn’t tell you about the last one. Although I was born to a rich family and had a chance to travel a lot and study, I kept bumping into brick walls in the men's world. I found out a lot about how the human body works and learned herbal medicine from healers but I was not allowed to enter medical school because I was a woman."
She showed us a mental picture of her travels in many European countries when she visited healers, shamans, and medicine women.
Then she continued with a bitter tone of her voice, "I became a midwife but when the doctors who believed in bloodletting as the only form of medicine found out that I've been using herbs to heal people, they declared me incompetent and locked me up in a mental asylum where I died years later."
"So sorry, Kira," I tried to console my friend.
“It’s okay but under different circumstances, I could have earned my permanent stay. Well, maybe next time. Oh, I hope you don’t mind me inviting Sandor,” she pointed toward soul floating alone by the window.
“Of course I don’t mind. Who’s he?”
“He’s been a permanent for a long time but he’s kind of a loner and doesn’t make friends easily. You see, all his lifetimes, that happened to be war-times every time, he was destined to be the underdog, sickly and weak. He couldn’t fight but in his last lifetime he wrote a poem that moved an entire nation which led them to victory.”
“Wow! I never knew writing a poem would be enough to earn someone a permanent stay,” I mused and then spotted my dear friend in the crowd. “Have you met Gertrude?” I asked Kira.
“No, but I see she’s a permanent. How did she earn it?”
“She invented the first antiretroviral drug to treat AIDS. I wish I could achieve something similar in my next life.”
“Yes, me too,” Kira projected her words.
We mingled, socialized, enjoyed each other’s company and learned from each other’s earthly experiences. Later we played our favorite games, listened to music and went to see a play.
Although we don't measure time in our resting periods, this time Joland and I had a longer than usual time together. We spent the time enjoying the pure happiness that only soulmates have a chance to experience.
"I hope in our next earthly lives we could be together in body and soul." he wished.
"I hope we will be born at least on the same continent so we could have a chance to meet,” I replied. “But, let's not waste time worrying. Let's enjoy what we have."
We did for a long time but then the voice came, "Tiana, Joland, it's time for both of you to go."
"Can we stay for just a little bit longer?" I begged.
"No, you know the rule," the stern voice replied. "Both of you must keep going back until you achieve something in one of your lifetimes that helps to move humanity forward. You must do something that people find worthy to remember your name for. Then you can reunite and stay together for eternity."
I embraced Joland and he sent me his thoughts and his feelings of pure love, "Until we meet again."
We floated away from each other dragged by a force we couldn't fight. Suddenly, I found myself struggling to push my way through a dark, narrow, and very tight tunnel. I pleaded silently, please, let us both find our purpose in life this time.
As I wiggled my small body free and struggled to take my first breath, I tried to hold onto my memories but everything faded away. Cell memories surfaced and I remembered only sounds and the comfortable feeling of floating in warm liquid. I heard familiar, loving voices and the calming, rhythmical lub-dub sound as I was laid on a warm and soft surface and felt the reassuring vibes of love radiating toward me. I'm not alone. Everything will be alright.
I became an avid reader at a very early age, thanks to my dad who introduced me to many great books. I write alternate history, romantic fantasy, magical realism novels as well as fun, educational, and bilingual books for children ages 4-12 about acceptance, friendship, family, and moral values such as accepting people with disabilities, dealing with bullies, and not judging others before getting to know them. I also like to encourage children to use their imagination and daydream about fantasy worlds.