If I have the skill set of a painter or even a small aptitude to sketch a shape or object, I think I can very well capture the contour of her serene face, the pallor of her skin in a canvass, the loving doe eyes as if speaking to me in volumes. But since I have no such skill, only a vague memory of her face remains somewhere etched in the crevices of my stroke damaged brain.
But who she is, to this date, two years have already gone by following my harrowing near-death experience with stroke, I remain clueless. I have no idea where and who I can associate her face from what I can muster to recall in my memory bank. But, there’s simply nothing that would give me an idea of who she was to me. All I know is her apparition that night at my bedside window at the second-floor room of the hospital gave me that kind of serenity and that peaceful feeling I could not well place. I know in the back of my mind, I was hovering between life and death, that I am aware of the tubes, the oxygen, and the drips, attached to my body. Was she an apparition, who peeped at my window in this dead of the night. Is she a crazed woman, who used a ladder to just take a peep at me at the second floor?
The years of work as a journalist made me want solid indisputable proof of other-worldly stories I had long since heard of in many variation in my childhood. I write stories based on hard evidence presented.
Then I guess what seems to be an eternity of waiting, while lying there on my bed and trying to dismiss the vision that I just saw as nothing but my own making. I think I also waited if she will ever utter a word or ask me to come with her, wherever it maybe. If she had bid it to me that moment, there’s no hesitancy on my part that I would go with her. I could no longer take the excruciating pain in my head. Then I remembered just before I had fallen to a somnambulist state,- half awake and half asleep- the doctor just gave me a strong cocktail of pain reliever, a codein drug and 100 mg of Panadol just so i can pass the night and fall asleep. That could be it. I was hallucinating.
Then morning came, the first rounds of doctors and nurses came to check on me. I asked them if I had visitor past midnight and before I had fallen asleep. No one, they said, upon checking the nurse station. The next evening it was another strange encounter. I felt I was transferred from my bed to another room which appears to be eerily antiquated with a small lamp at my bed side. Then maybe past midnight again, I heard children’s voices from outside the hospital building playing amidst a drizzle. Are these kids crazy, why so late at night and in the middle of a rain, I thought to myself. The morning after, I asked again the nurses of the strange sounds I’ve heard and if I was transferred from my bed to another room.
Patients can be easily transferred from our bed to another area, say the laboratory lab or the comfort room, using the harness strapped to my body and the systems of pulleys and levers in our room’s ceiling. This time I received a different reply. “Ahh. don’t be surprise Mr. Santos, we sometimes heard it ourselves especially at past midnight. Children playing marbles at the hallway. You must know this is the oldest hospital in Singapore and it’s more than a 100 years old already.”
So this is the question that I haven’t got a closure. So did I cross the great beyond but allowed to come back to life again. Are those ghosts I’ve seen and heard when I was at my hospital bed. I narrated this strange experience to a friend priest. And he said, you know Dennis we studied this phenomenon and I have given a number of last rites to a dying person and its common to hear them say that they too have seen apparitions in their near death experience. This is my learning. Don’t be afraid of death, it will come to us all eventually. For those who still grieve over the loss of a love one, there’s an afterlife which is peaceful and of bliss. Their souls is in a much happier and better place. I think I can attest to this and had taken a glimpse of it when I saw that serene looking woman I saw at my window.