Updated: Aug 11
She had been cleaning up the house; and went looking for something. She can’t remember what, now, but it led her to this moment. A book, wrapped in plain brown paper, appeared; and she remembered that it was going to be a gift for a fellow guest one Christmas long gone. The guest had never arrived, and she never had a chance to pass it on.
She opened the wrapping, and it’s shiny golden title glistened out from the plain blue background. The colour of the sky, she thought. She had never read the book, but she had read it’s predecessor some years prior.
That book had changed her. The year was 2012, and her father had been gone now for 51 days. It was Christmas day, and she was alone. Her mother had passed too, and she was without a spouse. Without children. It was her first Christmas, totally alone. She had the last family Christmas in the family home to look forward to in the evening, but now her time was peaceful and very quiet.
She sat in her big winged lounge chair by the window, her feet snuggly under a light blanket on the footstool, and mug of warm chocolate on the buffet beside her. That book was called “Proof of Heaven”; a name which had caught her attention immediately, and she bought it on impulse. It was about a man who experienced a transformation; a neurosurgeon who seemed to have a near death experience. It changed his life; because, prior to his experience, he took no stock in the stories his patients would tell him when they recounted their own near death experiences. Afterwards, though, he lost all resistance to their stories. He began to collect their letters. He researched the philosophies of science and consciousness and spiritual faith.
So here she was, a second book in hand. New, but not new. Shiny and smooth and untouched, except by her own hands.
Now, it was rainy. A winter’s weekend with no walks in the park or along the beach. The East Coast Low was all over the news, and her mobile phone beeped with messages of warning from the government. She had already packed her “Go-Kit” during the fires late last year. She was already ready for action; if it came to it. The floods would come nearly to her door; just not yet.
But for now, she could read; a pleasure she had long forgotten in the hustle of life. Even without children to organise or a husband to seduce, her life was full and busy. This time, she sat in the red velvet lounge chair that once belonged to her mother, and was used for a while by her father – the only thing of her that he wanted in their room after she’d died. That chair, like their dressing gowns and gloves, carried a little of the essence of them. Under a red velvety blanket, she was cocooned against the cold of winter.
The writer’s style was not exactly her way of articulating. He was, after all, a neurosurgeon. He had been writing scientific articles all his working life, and this was a hard habit to beat. But the content was there, and that’s what counted. The content was blessing after blessing.
As she read, there would be phrases with which she identified; and she would bend over the corner to dog-ear the pages where they appeared.
“I was an irreplaceable part of the whole (like all of us) ..”
... and ...
“empty space haunted by singularities”
After having read about a third of this book, she got up to stretch her legs and draw the curtains closed against the cold. She made her dinner and settled in for the evening.
The following day, as she enjoyed the same breakfast as always, she noticed the plants hanging in their baskets around her. She felt one with them, an irreplaceable part of a whole that included each petal sighing in the breeze, each speck of dirt, each drop of rain. She felt that empty space haunted by singularities, and knew that she was one of them; or rather, she was many of them, and all of them, and certainly not none of them. She felt the buzz of life all around her, against her skin and inside her blood.
No longer separate but synchronous.
The second night mirrored the first, and when she finished her second third of the book to repeat her evening ritual, she heard herself singing.
She realised that she had sung the same song when she closed the book the previous night. She hadn’t been listening to a radio, and she hadn’t heard it anywhere else. There were no references to this song anywhere in the book. The song just slipped into her consciousness. La-la-la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la-laaaa-la …. A pretty lilting tune penned by Louis Guglielmi (also known as Louiguy).
The same song! Out of the blue! She went to her mobile phone and searched the title with the word “lyrics”. “La Vie En Rose” came up in French (but obviously typed in English), and she wrote it down, but she couldn’t fit the opening lines into the tune in her head. She spoke French very poorly (just enough to get by, if lost in Paris alone). When she found a link to translate the words, she clicked on it, but the translation was missing something, the “Je ne sais quoi”. She looked for a video, and found one by Edith Piaf, it’s creator, and another by a young singer called Chloe Moriondo. She played Chloe’s soft youthful version, and it stirred something in her. It had the lyrics printed on each screen, so she could sing along, and she did.
Chloe Moriondo sang a version that was first in French, with the original words, and then in English with words that were not a strict translation. Still, those words, “la vie en rose” stuck, as though the translation could mean different things, and if she could get it right then she could understand why this song had been given to her (and maybe, by whom). So, the following morning, she went back to the original chanteuse, Edith Piaf, and listened. Someone had left another English translation in the list of comments, which still didn’t answer her questions, “Who?”, “Why?”.
All she knew, was that this song slipping from subconscious to superconscious, made her feel safe, embraced and loved. It was a message, and a strong one.
She decided to translate the song herself, but wanted to know the story behind Edith Piaf writing it. No luck. What did the phrase “la vie en rose” mean? Apparently, Edith Piaf had written it as “les choses en rose” (pink things) and Marianne Michel changed “les choses” to “la vie” (the life). So, it could be that we see life through rose-coloured glasses when we fall in love. It could mean that, when you find the one to whom you belong (and that person belongs to you), then life is rosy.
Here is her translation:
Your eyes kiss mine
My laugh is lost on your lips
You are utterly perfect
You are the man, to whom, I belong.
Take me, tenderly, in your arms
Say sweet words to me
And all my life is rosy
Tell me words, the words of love
And say them every day
Oh, it happens to me
Come into my open heart
This spark of happiness
Of which you are the cause
It’s you for me, and it’s me for you.
Say it, please say it, together for all life.
And, as soon as I see you
I feel it, and you too,
My heart beats so fast!
Everlasting nights of love, of ecstasy
Replace all the troubles, the hurts, the sorrows
Finally, I can die happy.
So that brought her back to the start. Back to her questions. And yet, all she had were the answers with which she started.
Feeling loved, across space and time. As though space and time were right next to her, “I’m here”.
She could feel this spiritual presence against her left arm, tingling; and as she acknowledged those words, “I’m here”, she wept uncontrollably. Whomever this was, they were right there, with her, across space and time. It didn’t matter if she were loved by another human for the rest of her life; she knew that there was someone – who shared her soul – who was right there with her. And she was relieved.
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Those phrases were from “The Map of Heaven”, by Eben Alexander, Page XXIX. In it, on page 43, he quotes from "A New Science of the Paranormal”, by Lawrence LeShan, who in turn quoted Werner Heisenberg, Page 81-82.