Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Get Out of Line

Michael Sedano

Get out of line. Go back.

I couldn’t hear the others—if they said anything at all. I struggled to make out forms and faces in the dim light that peopled the blackness now with row upon row of assembled figures whose numbers built crowds filling the blackness with a finite infinity of spirits. I wasn’t sure I could see them at all. They were ignoring me.

Except for that message. Go back. I did not know the voice.

I knew them, however. The ancestors. I’d seen them before, that day they’d gathered in the shadows of my mother’s hospital room. Her shallow breaths and motionless form filling my awareness with a different pain. That day the antepasados told me take her home with me, give her a final year of respite and peace.

Today I could not escape the pain burning through me, sending me past the edge of awareness out of the light and into that blackness so total I did not know was I crawling, flying, standing still? But I knew They were out there, and whether I was in a tunnel, a cloud, a concrete nothingness, I persisted toward them.

I expected to see my Dad and my Mom, and groups of gente I didn’t know but instantly recognized as familia. Dimly, the figures began to emerge from blackness. I glimpsed seated and standing souls where there had been none. Groups of little kids played silently around family circles. I ached to hang in the Mora branches and listen to that group of adults telling stories. A face smiled in laughter, a palm slapped a lap as the group shared their favorite jokes.

There wasn’t enough light. I pulled and pushed and clawed my way toward them but made no advance. I began to thirst for light.

My fingers lifted a heavy drape and the ancestors disappeared. The sounds of my distraught familia now gathered around me in the ICU emerged from blackness and cried for illumination. I wanted my family in this world to hear the message I brought.

I had no voice. I was crying for light.

One of the men recognized what my fingers were doing. “He’s spelling Morse Code! From the Army a long time ago. Look!”

I tapped three times. “S” he said. I held up a finger, that’s right it was screaming. I tapped short and long, but no one recognized ‘A’. Dah-dah-dit. Dit.

One of the women said, “is he dyslexic? He’s making letters in the air backwards!” They read the letters together:

“S…
O…
C…
O...”

I wanted to scream what the ancestors told me on the other side. We would have to begin again.

“Sage,” I whispered and after a few seconds they heard it.

I’d been told to get out of line and return to my people in this world. My people in this room in Huntington hospital, my precious grandchildren in their beds who did not know they’d almost lost grampa. Now we will come together and start again, and I will tell them.

I had died but been turned away by the ancestors.

I’ve been hospitalized for 12 days now, and will remain here another week. When I finally get back home, we will gather outside and I will tell them. We buried Pete and Helen with sage; as my grandmother would have said they were the last of our tribe.

We begin again. We will gather, burn sage, and tell stories. In my ears I’ll remember the voice, “mi’jo, go back.”


FYI: Two weeks ago I went to the ER with a perforated gut that got cut out. Three days after that my spleen exploded.

Now an extended recuperation begins. I'll read a lot, write a lot, remember all this.

Western medicine is a marvel. Not just the technology and medicines, the people. Wondrously caring gente attending to sickness throughout the night. Incredibly smart, all the top students in their classes showing how their teachers were right: these are top notch scientists and care-givers, the best our modern culture creates. So many immigrants.

Still, el cucui--the spirit world--looms large in gente with traditional experiences and values. Without the antepasados to keep me here with their powerful medicine, I wouldn't be able to tell you more.

36 comments:

Amelia ML Montes said...
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Amelia ML Montes said...
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Amelia ML Montes said...

Saludos Michael-- So glad to see you are "out of line" and "back" con nosotras/nosotros. You belong aqui. Sending you strong healing energies! Cuidate--take it slow. Abrazos! (p.s.: third time in posting due to a nagging typo that I couldn't seem to correct).
Bueno! Hasta soon y so glad to read your post.

Melinda Palacio said...

So glad you are with us! We need you on this side, Michael.

Xánath Caraza said...

Mucha energía curativa de la de nuestra gente con aroma a rayos de sol en el corazón. We need you on this side, Em, las charas azules entonan la canción matutina. Abrazo fuerte!

richard vargas said...

glad they sent you back. someday we should compare notes...

rest up, amigo.

adrian arancibia said...

Take care Michael!Take the time to recoup and reenergize! Un abrazo.

Latino Heritage said...

Shocked to see the image that led me to read your post. Glad to read that you are on the men. Thankful that They told you it was not time yet. Discern. Heal. Let your body rest and strengthen.

Anonymous said...

Good that your synapses were powerfully locked enough to maintain your hold; some of us would've missed you.
You, y nosotros, still have some time remaining. Qué bueno!
To enjoy company, do good art and do good. Más bueno.
If I were there, I'd sneak you un tamal or un traguito. Qué lástima que no 'stoy. Oh, wait--that might be what sent you there. Anyway....
Ya que 'stas bien, te veo. Como siempre, pero mejorado.
RudyG, por lo menos, por un ratito

ERNEST HOGAN said...

I guess you still have work to do. Take care.

Rene Colato Lainez said...

Muchos deseos de recuperación.

Anonymous said...

No wonder I haven't seen you on FB. Get well soon, dear Michael! If you send me a message through FB with an address where I can send you copy of Confessions of a Book Burner, please do. I promise the stories in it won't depress you but rather entertain you! Cuidate mucho, y una pronta recuperación! Lucha

Edward Vidaurre said...

Un abrazo y bendiciones...Get plenty of rest and no rush...walk in your garden hermano...feel the peace and life around you.

RC said...

Take care, Michael.

Kathy Cano-Murillo said...

Glad you are still here with us on Earth, bringing light and warmth to all of us. Wiping tears, wow, so happy you stayed with us!

Anonymous said...

So thankful your journey is not complete. I wish you all the positive blessings for your recovery. I've never met you but your words and this La Bloga creation have given me great lessons and strength to follow true paths. You are appreciated and I sent you thoughts for the best of health.
Blessings,
Diana Aviles Shields

Anonymous said...

So thankful your journey is not complete. I wish you all the positive blessings for your recovery. I've never met you but your words and this La Bloga creation have given me great lessons and strength to follow true paths. You are appreciated and I sent you thoughts for the best of health.
Blessings,
Diana Aviles Shields

jovita said...
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Anonymous said...

Double good wishes! DAS

Manuel Ramos said...

Welcome back, in more ways than one.

Olga Garcia Echeverria said...

Wow. What a journey. Glad you are here to share it with us. Healing wishes being sent your way !!!

jovita said...

EM,
life vida holds us
nests us
in its palms
until we are ready to take to the skies

time still breathes in you, my friend
that is a goodness I am thankful for

vika g

Sabrina Vourvoulias said...

Glad you are back. Heal and be well.

Odilia Galvan Rodriguez said...

Em, so glad you are back, sending you healing energy and positive thoughts for a speedy recovery. I was wondering where you were off to, sent you a message, now I know... on a difficult journey and a sweet return to your familia on this side of the veil. So lucky for all of us. Abrazos, Odilia

LaSirena said...

Our beloved ancestors, our history, our souls, almost always hidden but they are there, watching and waiting to help and to save. A speedy recovery to you and Mil gracias for sharing this profoundly personal experience.

Lydia Gil said...

Estoy contigo, Michael. Salud y paz.

Anonymous said...

glad u turned ur near death exp. into a narrative reminding me of the late Gabo.
I've heard/read such experiences change one's life.
if it did will u contnue sharing?

Concepcion said...

Michael, what a joy to see you did not miss your Tuesday bloga! And, what inspiration for a column! Gracias!

Denturist said...

Hats off to you. People need you :)

Emilia Garcia said...

Glad you were taken "out of line" and still with us. Thank you for words. Paz y Salud...

Anonymous said...

Too legit too quit, too tough to die. Andale, mi rey! Lisa Alvarado

Sandra Ramos O'Briant said...

Michael, beautiful writing. Please teach me Morse Code.

Therese Hernandez-Cano said...

As always, so busy with my life, didn't know you had been off the "scene". Continue to mend so Joe & I can see you (if possible?). Sending you patience in healing and we are more than grateful you are still with us!

Kamau said...

OMG, Em! Didn't know of your plight. Now I do, so add me to your power-hour of strength and support. I'm already living on borrowed time, myself, so, what's a little more shared debt, compadre? Peace be unto you.

jmu said...

Eso te pasa por estarte aguantando tanto. Te hubieras ido al hospital mas pronto y no estarías tan amolado. A ver si aprendes.

So they did not want you yet? Ah, pos ni modo. Hay que seguirle dando, ¿no?

Too bad you can't have birongas anymore. I'll drink them for you. Salucita de la buena

Michael Collins said...

Good Lard Sedano! Damn! I've been thinking that I should get out to LA and see you and Barbara and you're doing this. I'm so glad to read this piece since the alternative is unthinkable! Hang in there, get well, and there's something in the mail for you soon.