Little did I know it, when I made my reservations to fly to London in January, that I was going on a far different trip, that I would travel much further, reach greater heights, and experience more serious encounters than a trip to Europe would have afforded me. You see, sometimes life takes an unexpected turn, and I went to the edge of mine and looked out into forever.
Although I went with it, I conveniently avoided any thoughts of what they would do to me in that operating room. I knew of course, but I didn't allow myself to dwell on it. Now that it's over, the thoughts come back. I no longer fear them, nor the details of the trip.
In order to work on my heart they had to disconnect me from my body. They had to put me on an artificial heart which would pump the blood. They had to put me on an artificial lung, a respirator. My mouth was taped up and a tube took in the air for me. I truly felt that they had disconnected me from my body, and my soul was elsewhere for a time. A time which cannot be measured in hours or minutes. An elsewhere which cannot be translated into words or described. But I have a deep awareness of the "elsewhere" as a place of knowing, and of having re-established there my long lost contact with God and the universal energy. And all this took place in an immeasurable moment of time in which I was suspended.
No! I wasn't suspended. I was upheld. Upheld by the voices, the energy, the concern of a lot of people to whom I owe my rite of passage. Let this be my fare!
I remember warm sunny days with a pot-luck and a boogie at Stan Grossman's land on Navarro Ridge Road. And then someone would say that George was going through hard times and wouldn't it be nice if we made a circle and sent him some good energy. And we did that. We stood around in a large circle and held hands and closed our eyes and took deep breaths, and sent George good energy to help through his personal storm. And in that circle there was always a skeptic. Usually it was me. Oh! I didn't break the circle. I made the effort but I had my doubts about its effectiveness. I KNOW NOW THAT IT WORKS. No! I wasn't suspended. I was upheld.
When I first came out of the anesthetic after the operation, it was like waking from an earth-shaking dream, a dream I did not want to forget. My eyes were closed and my mouth was taped shut. I was still on an artificial lung and a tube was helping me breathe. I began to feel my hands and feet though the rest of me was still under. I could sense the presence of two or three people leaning over and working on me. Still I felt the intensity of the dream which lay just on the other side of my consciousness.
I agitated the fingers of my right hand and heard someone say "He's coming to". I continued to agitate my hand, joining my thumb and index finger. "I think . . . he wants . . . a paper and pencil". I did and they brought it to me. Then, while lying flat on my back, unable to feel or see, I scribbled through closed eyelids "It's . . a . . wonderful . . . life". I would have left it at that but I somehow felt that they misunderstood me so I wrote "Jimmy . . . Stewart . . . movie". That's what I brought back from my trip and I want to share it with you.
The movie starts in late evening in a small town. The camera pans the quiet street to a lit open window from which a voice is heard praying: "Dear God, please help George. He's a nice man and he needs your help". Then the camera pans over to another open window across the street and there's a voice coming from it. "And please dear God, see if you can do something for George. He's in a bad way". And so to several other windows emitting similar pleas. Then the camera pans up a tree and to the starry sky where all these voices blend and rise like a stack. From the brightest of those stars comes a deep voice: "It looks like there's a lot of people down there praying for George. Maybe we'd better send somebody".
Well that's what happened. There were circles and hope teams, thoughts and voices, and I knew what they had done for me. While the doctors worked on my body in that operating room . . . my soul was held up by a lot of caring people who, alone or with others, thought of me and wished me well. And well I am . . . THANK YOU. It's a wonderful life.
JAY FRANKSTON - 4 Jul 84
First published in A & E Magazine August 1984
Published again in The Common Thread Winter 1995 issue
(Jay Frankston was raised in Paris, France, and came to the U.S. in 1942. He became a lawyer and practiced on his own in New York for nearly twenty years, reaching the top of his profession, sculpting and writing at the same time.
In 1972 he gave up law and New York and moved himself and his family to Northern California where he became a teacher and continued to sculpt and write.
He is the author of several books and of a true tale entitled "A Christmas Story", which was published in New York, condensed in Reader's Digest, and translated into 15 languages. His latest book is called "The Girl in the Picture" and is his first book of poetry.)
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