(Part II of Old Beds and Sunshine)
This actually happened…
Marilou didn’t sleep alone in the room with the old metal daybed. There were two sisters and two brothers also, curled up in the bunk beds. They were all a year apart, except the baby girl who slept in a net-like crib. Marilou was ten when Marcus was born.
Their parents and “aunt” made ten, squeezed into a tiny wood-frame house. There were years when the house had no kitchen or bathroom. They did have a regular commode, only it was outside in the shed.
The last thing the six-year-old did each day was take a stroll to that tiny shed. No way was she goin’ out there in the middle of the night.
Thank goodness for Grandpa G. He was a carpenter and eventually built a kitchen and bathroom onto the house. Oh, the stories Marilou could tell of those days. So many adventures and tragedies played out in that little house in rural Miami.
Eventually the family moved into a bigger house in a real neighborhood. “Yeah, no more walking to school,” she giggled. “I’m ridin’ in a real live school bus.” She loved it, and she loved school.
Major ups and downs continued; the most horrific when her brother, Wallace, didn’t come home one day. He was headed home on his motorcycle when a speeder ran a stop sign. Wallace would never come home again.
Years later Marilou would face another brutal event. She came home from teaching her aerobics class one day; Aunt Mary had the news on TV. The burning building on the screen didn’t catch her attention, at first.
As she came closer, Marilou’s hands flew to her face. “That looks like Marcus’ apartment building…” It was. Her brother and his best friend did not survive the fire.
Marilou went in circles, than out the door and down the street. She didn’t know that a miracle would take place by sunrise the next day. She only knew when she was finally able to close her eyes, sleep would not come.
But her brothers did.
Marcus and Wallace were in the distance, hunched together on the trunk of a huge oak tree. It lay across a pond of brilliant blue water with reflections dancing across the surface like diamonds.
In this moment, Marilou became aware of music, soft and lilting. She had never heard anything like it; the sound reached into her soul and lifted her to a height like never before.
She became overwhelmed by her surroundings: the colors filled her up, blues and greens and hues so vibrant they seeped into her very being. “Every single thing is alive in this place,” Marilou realized.
Each leaf lives to touch a branch, which lives to touch the tree, which lives to touch the grass, which lives to touch my body, which holds my heart and reaches my soul. “I am one with the universe,” Marilou glowed.
She closed her eyes to soak in a joy and peace she had never known. When Marilou looked up to find her brothers, they were gone. She didn’t know where they went, but one thing she did know…
Marilou had been to Heaven.
May Your Glass Always Be Half Full