The air is warm, comfortably warm; the sun is always shining, my parents are sitting by the ocean, I can hear their laughter. My nephew is playing with his favorite bongo a few feet away from them. My dog is at my feet, wagging his fluffy black tail looking up at me. He follows as I walk towards the ocean, run my fingers through; the water forms a picture, I see her. She's outside, smiling, she looks so beautiful.
That's my daughter. I see her everyday, never physically though. You see, I'm in the afterlife. Almost ten years I've been here. I wish she knew that I still see. How I wish I could've been there to wipe away every tear, to hug her when she was cold, to smile with her. I replay the memory of her birth like a record player in my head. It was scary for her father and I, she was premature. Her kidneys hadn't fully developed yet and we had to watch over her every day in the hospital at the NICU. I didn't expect to be a mother, I didn't expect to meet her father. We fell in love instantly though. Telling our parents about her was a little difficult, but they were supportive and said we didn't have to get married because we were having a baby. We were in love. So we got married.
"She looks happy." My nephew is standing next to me now. I smile at him. He leans down to rub the scruff of my dog's fur.
"Yeah she does." I sigh. "It's moments like this I wish I was there."
"I know she wishes that too." He says with a small smile. "I might've scared her a few weeks ago. I was in what she thought was a dream, but I was checking on her. Her boyfriend seems nice."
"You only scared her because you were spying." I laugh. "You were like a brother to her. And you're right, he seems really nice. I remember him from years ago." I do, he wasn't a bad kid, he was just in the neighborhood a lot. He had quite the personality. I remember watching her look out the window just to see him, who would've thought that fifteen years later she would fall in love with him? Tears spring to my eyes and my nephew wraps his arm around my shoulder. "It's okay, Aunty." He says, kissing my forehead.
"No it's not. I should be there." I rub my eyes. "I made a promise to her that I would never leave her and look where I am. I left her alone! She was just a baby! My poor husband...ten years down there seems like a lifetime to them but up here...it's worse." I look at his face, the boyish, handsome face, with small freckles across his nose. He looked just like my brother. "I remember all of it. I knew I was going to die that day." My nephew listens to me, I never told him this.
The afterlife as you can see, has its flaws too. I sit down on the sand, continuing; my dog rests his snout on my lap. My nephew sits with me. "My husband saw me with the mask on, I took it off my face just to smile at him and wave. It was my way of saying goodbye." I swallow a lump in my throat, a small whimper escapes my mouth. "She didn't want to go to the hospital, and I didn't want her to. I didn't want her to remember me out of my body. I tried to fight so hard to get back in. I was screaming at myself, saying 'you can't go yet! You can't leave! Wake up! They need you!'. That's when the light came. And the three of you were standing there. I knew you guys could tell I didn't want to go."
My nephew nods and swallows hard. "You looked so sad, Grandpa looked so torn. When you looked at Grandma that's when I saw the change in you."
I start to cry. "Because I wasn't able to see her face for so many years...and now...my daughter has to go through the same pain everyday. My mother who was taken away from us when I was still practically a child, a young woman...she was there in front of me...almost thirty years later. I know that pain. I know that gut wrenching feeling in the pit of your stomach every time a memory crossed your mind. My baby girl was gonna suffer with it like I did, and that wrecked me."
"Aunty, that's the problem with all of this." He waves his hand around, motioning the island, the clear ocean, the warmth, the sunlight, the peace. "We can't change a destiny. We're not supposed to know when we go, it just happens. Our time happens for a reason, for what reason, I don't know. I wish I did because it's not fair."
"No it's not." I say, still staring at the scene in the ocean. She was laughing now, her smile large. I chuckle. "Wow. She laughs just like me."
"She's happy now Aunty." My nephew kisses my head before walking away to go sit with his grandparents.
I smile, watching my daughter smile. It hurt me, it hurt so much. The afterlife is extremely peaceful, I'll give you that, but when you have the ability to look at your loved ones 24/7 it becomes heartbreaking. There was so many times where I wished I could've held my daughter while she cried, to tell her everything would be okay. I wish I could've told her that alcohol doesn't solve any problems, it just numbs it. I wish I could've been there when she had her breakdown, when she finally accepted that I was never coming back. If I had the chance to show myself to her for just one day I would. I know that would only hurt her more because she'd want more than that one day.
I'll visit her while she sleeps, kiss her forehead, rub her hair, and see her in her dreams. I hold back from saying much in her dreams because I know she gets mad at me, she wants it to be real. She was mad at me for so long; I was mad at myself. If I could've given them a few more years with me I would. My dog nudges me in the leg with his snout, he's wagging his tail, almost smiling at me. I know what he wants, he wants to see his daddy. I lean down to run my finger through the ocean and the picture changes from our daughter to my husband. My dog jumps up and down and twirls, excited to see his face. He stops jumping when he notices something; my husband is playing with a small black cat. My dog whimpers and looks up at me, I kneel down at his level, smiling and rubbing his face. "He didn't forget you baby, he has a new buddy to play with. You remember how sad he was for a long time? Look at him now. And she had black fur like you." He whimpers again and leans his head against me. He sighs, I can tell he knew I was right. "He has his picture of you on his fridge, and Sissy has a lot of pictures of you." His tail begins to wag again.
"They love you my sweet pup, they always will." I kiss his nose and he licks my face in return. "We'll see them again baby, but not for a long time. We just have to deal with only watching from above." We both stare into the ocean, I see my husband opening the door and my daughter walk in with a cat little box. My dog wags his tail faster again. I see her give him a small box, he opens it and it's a necklace. He begins to get choked up a little bit, and kisses the necklace. The necklace that had my ashes in it. He hugs our daughter and kisses her cheek. I smile sadly and touch the ocean once more, it swirls around before going back to it's clear water. I sit back on the sand and snuggle my dog. Despite the peace and the serenity, it was a very beautiful place. I felt safe, I felt warm, I felt whole. I wasn't sick anymore.
I was happy. My soul was finally free; I was finally free. My daughter, my whole world, my joy, she was finally free. Free from pain, free from her grief. She was finally happy, and as much as I did cry for her and she would cry for me, happiness still existed. My baby girl was growing up, doing amazing things, writing, and as a mother from the afterlife, that's enough to let me know that she is finally okay.