I’ve never had a spiritual moment. Never heard voices or saw visions. Never been frozen by strong deja vu.

But last night I heard my mom’s voice. Which is interesting because she died of a massive heart attack almost nine years ago. Cremated before I got there.

Yesterday around 4:30 pm. Shadows falling, calling darkness. Hat on, hood up. My eyes were closed. And I was lying on the floor. The floor wasn’t warm or cold. The carpet was thin. Faded olive. I wasn’t hungry or full. I was listening to song, deep vocal singing. But before that. Right before the singing started, or maybe just as the singing began, that’s when I heard my mom’s voice. Then, like now, I knew with 100% certainty it was her. And also 100% suspicion that maybe it was a cat noise, distorted by the way the wool hat muffled my ears, or maybe the singer cleared his throat, or some cat singer combo.

I kept my eyes closed. Held the belief and suspicion with equal measure. Some call this suspended wake-sleep state dreaming. Some call it the bardo—the grey ether between life and death. I was laying on the floor. Hat on, hood up.

I kept my eyes closed because my mom’s been dead for nine years. And I can’t remember her voice well. Memories fade so fast. I kept my eyes closed because I hadn’t heard mom’s voice like that for years. Since before she died. Since I was a teenager. Or younger. I can’t remember.

Before lying on the floor—hat on, hood up—yesterday was normal. 5am wake up. Dog. Coffee. Write. Apple pie for breakfast. Baby walk in woods. Meet Kate at soccer. Read A Million Little Pieces. Salad with parmesan and guac. Dishes. Vacuum. It wasn’t a day of mourning or missing mom. Normal.

Mom’s voice sounded distinctly young. Or alive. I couldn’t tell which. Maybe both. But that’s not the first thing I thought.

Immediately after hearing her voice, this is my thought-progression, as best as I can remember and then translate memory into words.

1. Mom

2. God

3. It’s okay. I’m here.

4. You being here has something to do with me being an anxious helicopter parent. (When Ellie’s held by anyone other than me or Kate for longer than 60 seconds, my anxiety grows in proportion to the time spent away.)

Her voice was so soft. Like lazy morning coffee and bacon in the kitchen, drenched in muted sun. But it wasn’t just the sound of her voice, meaning the acoustic. She came with a physical presence. Hairs stood on end. Took up space in the room. Or at least in my closed eye mental room. She sounded soft emotionally and yet vast. Very vast. Like warm ocean. Yellow red warm. Kind. Reassuring.

Her voice was a long blip. Less than a second. Maybe a syllable. I can’t remember. Maybe she said Ry. I can’t remember. Maybe just a guttural noise. I can’t remember. But there was definitely a noise. And immediately it felt like her. Like she was there. In my brain or in the afterlife or in this life. I don’t know.

Regarding thought #2, that she’s God. I’m an atheist. Don’t believe in a universal supreme cosmic deity figure. The thought I had last night was actually closer to “my god.” In the sense that she’s here for me in some not immediately perceptible physical way. For my guidance, for my comfort, whatever. As my homeopathic chlll-the-fuck-out meds. As my non-pharmacological anti-depressant. She’s here.

Twenty minutes later, I checked my email. This time hat off, hood off. My dad had written my sisters and his sisters and me an email about mom. And death. And how short life is. And how he’s had a pair of wool socks for ten years. I called him and told him I heard mom’s voice.

What and where is the subconscious? Where is my mom? Are they two forms of the same question? Science tends to limit the discussion of questions like these. Both because consciousness is subjective and slippery, and therefore not reproducible en masse. But suppose we get there. Suppose a neuroscientist opens my skull and pokes around my brain with electrodes until I hear my mom’s voice again. What then? I’d be sore and bruised. Black and blue and disappointed. Mom is just brain electron stimulation.

But maybe not.

Maybe electric brain probing doesn’t negate the spontaneous apparition. Like my mom’s voice last night. She arrived without electric probing. What do scientists say about this? She arrived of her own accord. Maybe Jungian psychologists say that’s my subconscious giving me much needed information about what I need to work on. Maybe. I’m not sure. Maybe the dead have access to the brains of the living. Or maybe it’s just dead moms. Maybe they have a a special eternal neuro tie to their children.

Or maybe the universe works in mysterious ways.


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