A Life Apart

Chapter 15: Glimpses Behind The Veil (pg. 57)


Some time passed before the admitting doctor and the cardiologist with whom she conferred came out of Mirabelle’s room. She approached Eli. The doctor was a petite Asian woman with a business-like manner. “You’re the psychiatrist who came in with her?” Eli nodded. “Well, she’s definitely stabilized. You can see her, though she’s still out. We’re going to confer on a diagnosis. Your friend, Dr. Manning, can participate.” The doctor started to leave, then as an afterthought she added, “Don’t be alarmed at the probes. We’re monitoring both brain and heart patterns. It’s just a precaution. If anything abnormal occurs, it will show up at the nurses’ station. We’ll be close by.”

Eli entered, moved a chair close to Mirabelle’s bedside, took her hand, and sat down beside her. He studied her face. It was unreadable. So much of her personality, he realized, radiated through a variety of expressions. Now, looking at her, he saw a stillness that seemed to place her in another world, separated from him. A deep longing welled up in him: he wanted her wholly present. Maybe, he thought, he could finally tell her that he had fallen in love with her. He turned this thought over and over in his mind for some time, as he stared at her face, imagining its features changing in response to his admission. Then, something—a blip on one of the machines—caught his eye. It was suddenly registering heightened waves across a wide spectrum. He reached for the “call” button at Mirabelle’s bedside. Within seconds, the admitting doctor and two nurses appeared. The doctor just glanced at the machine, lifted Mirabelle’s eyelids, and flashed a light on her pupils. Noticing the panicky look on Eli’s face, she said, “She’s alright, though I’ve never seen this much brain activity in a non-dream state. It’s most unusual. But I see no reason to worry. If there was no brain activity, then we’d have something to worry about. I suspect she’ll come out of it soon. Call us when she does.” Then she left, the nurses following close behind.

Eli resumed his seat and once again took Mirabelle’s hand in both of his. Then he placed his head gently on her stomach, feeling its rhythmic rise and fall.

“Eli, is that you?”

Quickly, he raised his head and saw her eyes partially open. She gave a half smile, like somebody rising from a deep sleep. “You blacked out again. The doctors said you’d be alright. But I was worried. Lying here, you seemed so far away.”

“Eli, I wasn’t, but it seemed like I was. I can’t explain what I just experienced. It was a kind of death, where I experienced a presence that mirrored itself in me. But I was not ‘me.’ That ‘me’ was dead, gone. I was that presence. I don’t know how to explain what just happened. But it was beautiful, like seeing with new eyes.” Reacting to Eli’s puzzled expression, she added, “You must think I’m crazy.”

“No, but you’re ever a mystery to me. I’m just thankful you came back into this world.”

Just then both doctors returned. The admitting doctor spoke first, “Welcome back, Ms. Paxton. If you don’t mind, let me have a look at you.”

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