As I approach the door, I glance out the window to see rain falling onto the empty driveway… I can’t see anyone there – the front stoop isn’t visible from the window. If someone has arrived, they’ve apparently walked here, in the rain.
A male voice calls to me. The voice is hesitant, and familiar.
“I’m looking for Andrea. Hello, are you there? It’s important.”
There’s something in the way he says my name, with a very slight, unidentifiable accent. I know the voice yet I can’t place it.
I turn the knob, slowly.
As I crack the door, I peer outside into the damp air. A man, about 60, stands before me; his face is wet. Is that rain or is he crying? He wears business clothes, a trench coat, a fedora. Now he’s smiling.
I try not to stare, but I can’t take my eyes off his face. He looks so much like my father, who died more than 30 years ago.
“I’m so glad I found you,” he says, “I’ve missed you.”
I back away from the figure, feeling faint. My knees weaken as I step backwards, and the door swings open to reveal a man who looks identical to the fading Polaroids I’ve seen so often. The impostor stands quietly at the threshold, then extends his arm towards me. I reach behind me as I begin to lose my balance – my hand reaches the wall which keeps me upright as the man steps closer.
“I know you must be in shock,” he says, and he places his hand on my arm to help steady me. My first instinct is to brush his hand away, but even that is familiar – a strong hand, slightly worn from years of building furniture, bridges, and rooftops. I look back up at his face.
“Yes, it’s me – I’m here.” He embraces me, and I collapse into him. I’m afraid to let go, or he may be gone again forever.
All physical sensation leaves me, until I’m completely numb. I’m out of my body – sobbing, laughing, trying to catch my breath. I step back to look at him. I can’t believe he is alive, standing here in the flesh. My heart feels full. I now realize that the ‘stranger’ who looks 60 by today’s standards, is my 52-year old father, who, as we stand here together for the first time in 32 years, is essentially only ten years older than I am today.
Of course, this scene never happened. But many times over the years, especially when I was growing up, I imagined that it did. Oh what I wouldn’t give for one more day with him – or even just an hour – to hug his neck, to hear his voice, to get answers to all those unanswered questions about him, his thoughts, his wishes, his beliefs.
I’d ask him about that last day: did he feel any differently that morning he died? Was he aware of the chaos surrounding him: his wife and two daughters, 19 and 10, trying frantically to do something as he struggled to survive the heart attack? Could he hear us crying and calling his name? Was there any time for prayer, or for regret? Did his life “flash before him” in those final moments, and, if so, what did he see?
I’d ask him about the afterlife – about heaven, and about God – but I can’t imagine that he’d be able to tell me anything about that. How do you put something into words that is an eternal mystery? A state of being that none of us understands, and that many don’t believe exists? Given the opportunity, would I really want to know the reality of what awaits on the other side?
A new series on ABC, aptly named Resurrection, explores all of the questions, answers, mysteries, and secrets revealed if an average person were to come back to life in 2014.
While the previews riveted me, they also left me unsettled. I promised myself I wouldn’t watch. But curiosity got the best of me and the show delivered. Now, I have to admit, I’m hooked.
The premiere depicts a young boy who died in a drowning incident, trying to save his aunt who had fallen into a raging river. She also died, but it’s the child who comes back to life more than 30 years later and appears at his parents’ doorstep.
The boy’s return prompts infinite questions, but also provides answers, some of which would have been better left unsaid. I had never before considered the fact that when people die, pieces of history as well as their story die with them. Were a person to be resurrected, likewise, their secrets – good, bad, and ugly – all come back to life. This concept is dramatically explored by the show.
I’ve been parentless for 10 years, and there are times I’d give anything to have my mother and father back to seek advice, guidance, and encouragement. However, there are many times I’m glad I don’t have to explain or defend my life to them, particularly to my mother, as she was typically more discouraging than encouraging.
I miss her terribly – but when she died, so too did her alcoholism, my co-dependency on it, and her overbearing opinions of me. So perhaps it’s best that she went to her grave thinking I was happily married. It would be painful if Mom suddenly reappeared and learned that I divorced after 12 years of marriage and never had any children of my own. I’m glad I don’t have to hear how disappointed she is, and where I went wrong…
So how did the families of the resurrected fare in the show? Many complications were unfolding in episode one. It concludes when a woman, who looks to be in her 30s, was reunited with her father, who died during her childhood. It is a scenario all too familiar to me. The final scene closes with an overhead view of the dramatic embrace between the father and daughter, as rain pours down around them. As I watch, my tears begin to flow as I long for one last hug from my Dad, and I remember why I didn’t want to watch this show…
And you can imagine how I’m spending my Sunday nights.
© Andrea Santiago
Andrea Clement Santiago is a career advice columnist, writer, and communications professional. Her background in medical sales, training, and healthcare recruiting led to her role as the Guide to Health Careers for About.com, an IAC company. She has contributed to books, journals, websites and has made media appearances on television and radio in her capacity as a healthcare career expert. She writes about her experience as an adult orphan on her blog, No Parents No Problem. Learn more about Andrea here. Follow Andrea on Twitter at @AndreaSantiago, or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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