Celeste’s mind raced with questions as she stared at her grandfather’s lifeless body laid upon the cold steel table. Light as a feather, stiff as a board — a game she would play with her friends at sleepovers. This was simply not a game anymore. At 13 years old, she finally recognized an evident difference in appearance between a still person and a lifeless body. Though he was physically there, all she could wonder was where he had gone.
She had always been curious about the afterlife at an early age. Her experiences wouldn’t allow her to accept death as a dreamless sleep. For Celeste, life held too much value. There must be more to a persons’ fate than to dissipate after their last breath. Her mind could barely hold onto a straightforward conclusion of death. She was fully aware that she would never find an honest answer, until her own vehicle of flesh and bones could no longer pump life throughout her veins. She could somehow feel the answers hiding deep within her. The more she tried to make sense of it all, the more she felt lost.
Celeste’s mother was a Roman Catholic that made her go to Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes after school for her first communion. Celeste’s first conscious wonderment of the afterlife was initially sparked through one of the lessons on Heaven and Hell. She would marvel as her teacher talked of our souls, being lifted up into paradise and down into eternal damnation. It made sense, their bodies have been placed here on earth then souls need to stay somewhere too. Celeste was neither afraid of hell or glorified the heavens, she was merely intrigued of what could be. This notion utterly shook her as a 7-year-old. Her petite self-tried to wrap her mind around this bizarre concept. She dreamt of what her heaven would be like. She saw her transparent soul lift a spoon of ice cream to her mouth. The spoon looked like it was floating in the clouds, yet she could feel her own grip on its handle. For the first time, she had become fully aware of death, especially of her own.
As for her father, he was not entirely religious, mostly superstitious. Her father’s side was primarily Buddhist primarily with her aunt being the most devoted. The only ideas of an afterlife that excited her, came from her aunt’s stories. For as long as she could remember, her aunt would share a new ghost story every holiday. She would gather everyone around drawing them into her spectacle of scares from noises she would hear in the middle of a still night. Some nights, she would see white apparitions and black shadows lurking behind her, feeling an eerie sense of eyes watching her. Other nights she would see departed ones reaching out to her vividly in her dreams. She would tell Celeste, “open your eyes, and the universe will show you”.
Celeste shared her aunt’s stories at sleepovers as if she were preaching a sermon. Her friends would go around the circle each sharing their own experiences with ghosts. She felt a universal bond through their different, yet very similar experiences which stirred each of them with awe. They could either chase spirits or run away from them. She was afraid of the unknown; however, her curiosity was more powerful. She and her friends’ obsession was ignited as they studied episodes of Ghost Adventures, observing paranormal movies with Medium’s summoning the dead to speak, and to be safe examining the process of an exorcism through the film, The Exorcist. In a pursuit to cultivate this inquisitiveness for the spirit realm, they began to experiment with the Ouija Board. Following in the footsteps of ghost hunters they soon found themselves venturing to abandon houses and nearby cemeteries. Each time, they ran out with no substantial evidence that they connected with someone in the afterlife. They would ask the random gust of wind “is there anyone else here with us”, and instinctively scurried at the sound of a rustle in the distance, convincing themselves that they were not alone.
They held a fresh wonder of what could be beyond themselves. This attachment of holding on to the marvel of some essence beyond this world had only illusioned Celeste, and her friends to only see what they wanted to see. This entertained them for months. As transitory as life itself, analogously, memories fade as new ones arise.
Years passed, and once again, death had slipped her mind, as she was presently consumed with her mundane life. Celeste was now entering her freshman year in college. Since then, her aunt would continue to tell some new ghost stories each holiday, which continued to entertained Celeste. But, she had lost interest in the search. She had heard these paranormal myths and tales her whole life, and she started to feel that is just what these stories will ever be — myths and tales.
During her first winter break back from college, her aunt had gifted her a deck of Doreen Virtue’s Archangel Oracle Cards for Christmas. These card’s intentions were to invoke one of the fifteen different Archangels to guide one to an answer to life’s questions. Her aunt used the cards for years as comfort and guidance. During a reading, a sudden call came to her that Celeste needed to have these Archangels within her reach. A gift that leaves an everlasting impression is very seldom received. Celeste at once began to use these cards religiously. Each reading had revealed to her guidance through every emotional block. These cards revealed answers that had always resided within her. She looked into these cards so often, she could’ve sworn to have familiarized herself with all of them. Though she was far from speaking to the dead, she had felt that sense of wonder rekindle within her.
Now, 21-years-old in her fall semester of junior year, Celeste embarked on her new journey to study abroad in Shanghai, China. She had made a conscious decision to leave her Oracle Card behind with a renewed sense of confidence. Her trip had started off strong, as she was ecstatic with adventure, immersing herself in another culture, with everything new.
Halfway through the semester, she received news from her mother that her grandma had been admitted to the hospital. Her sickness took only a few weeks to rapidly spread, consuming her whole body as she became weaker, until living exhausted her completely. She was gone within a month. Celeste had felt utterly trapped, there was no way for her to jump on a plane. Celeste hadn’t faced an immediate death since her grandfather’s. The thought of her grandmother being in that same state of her grandfather broke her as she burst into tears. But, there was something lighter about her grandmother’s death, a feeling of understanding and acceptance of this reoccurring cycle of life and death, then life again. Though, some part of her hoped of reconnecting with her.
Celeste went on, and, day by day, her grandmother began to slip from her mind. Then most days, her grandmother didn’t cross her mind at all. When she finally arrived back to the states, she immediately got ahold of her Oracle cards. Celeste had no expectation of gaining anything from this reading. Celeste shuffled the deck while her mind saturated with all the possible questions she had held onto for months. An impulse stopped her hands from shuffling anymore, and she began to lay the stack of cards on the floor. Celeste spread three cards diagonally in front, from left to right representing the past, present, and future. She flipped over the first card placed on the left, indicating the influence of energy from the near past. It informed her to focus on her sacral chakra. Doubt crept in as she continued to read the first card’s meaning. She hesitated as she reached to flip over the second card. A wave of ridiculousness rushed over her, thinking of how delusional she must be to have put her total belief in some stack of cardstock to help her. With that passing thought, Celeste set down the second card in the center, and the word “Mediumship” caught her by surprise. At the bottom of the card read, “You have the natural ability to connect with departed loved ones.”
Her hands grasped her mouth, trying to hold it shut. She began to choke for air. She couldn’t bring herself to reach for the next card, for she was still trying to process what unraveled before her. She frantically flipped through the book for a more in-depth meaning. Her hands started to shake as she read, “a departed loved one is reaching out to you, letting you know that everything will be ok”. That was the last time she had spoken to her grandmother.
To this day, Celeste holds no clear explanation of the spirit world. Continuing to go back and forth in her mind was whether it was a pure coincidence or was her grandmother truthfully reaching out to her. Perhaps she will never fully come know. Well, not in her lifetime, or not in any mortals’ lifetime. Nonetheless, a sense of peace manifested itself to her.