Editor’s note: Tikkun is delighted to be publishing Michael Kagan’s book Where’s G?d as a series on our website. This is the sixth chapter. Click here to read “Night Five.” Click here to read “Night Seven.”
I woke up into a strange world. Dim light that barely illuminated the room. My angels had gone. Flown away. I was not in my bed. My room had gone. Disappeared. The room smelled clean, too clean. No sickening stench. I turned my head. It hurt. I raised my arm. A point of pain near my wrist caused me to cry out. Something stirred in the darkness. It rose and stretched. It approached slowly, casting giant, menacing shadows on the walls. I held my breath and closed my eyes.
“Tara? Tara? It’s Daddy.” I opened my eyes. I tried to talk, but my voice was too weak. I could only manage a smile. “Shh. It’s OK. You’re in hospital. The doctor says you’re fine. He just wants to keep you here for observation.” I indicated to my arm from which a tube unfurled upwards to a mysterious bag suspended in the air. “It’s called a drip feed. It’s putting fluid back into your body, directly into your bloodstream. You were dehydrated.” I frowned. “You lost a lot of fluid when you threw up. Your body needs to be topped up again,” he explained. “Does it hurt?” I shrugged my shoulders. He bent over me and kissed me on my forehead. I could smell the familiar Daddy smell. But I also smelled something else. It took me a moment to identify it – fear. He was afraid. I had made him worry.
“Daddy?” He bent down again and placed his ear next to my mouth, “I’m sorry that I scared you,” I whispered, “I didn’t mean to, it’s just…”
“Shh. Of course you didn’t mean too. But we were worried. Hearing the crash. Finding you like that. Yes, we were definitely worried. The doctor says it must have been a stomach virus. Couldn’t have been food poisoning, since we all ate the same supper and Mummy and I are fine.”
“Where’s Mummy? Is she alright?” Every word was an effort. I had an image of the fuel gauge on our car rapidly descending to empty.
“Of course she’s alright. We’ve been taking it in turns to be here with you. Mummy’s gone home to get some sleep. I’ll let her know you’ve woken up.” I creased my forehead into a puzzled look. The fuel gauge has hovering dangerously over the red mark. “You’ve been asleep for two days. That must have been some virus. Get some rest now. Everything’s going to be fine.” He forced himself to smile, but through my collapsing eyelids I could see the worry at the back of his eyes.
Two days? Where had I been for two days? I know where my body had been, but where had I gone?
I closed my eyes, and suddenly I could see my angels in my room at home, hanging in space, encircling the planet earth. The Angel of Seeing. The Angel of Hearing. The Angel of Knowing. The Angel of Giving. The Angel of Receiving. The Angel of Loving. The Angel of Teaching. The Angel of Blessing. The Angel of Doing Right. The Angel of Protection. They were chanting an ancient formula in a language that I shouldn’t have known but somehow did. “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Creator of all things filling the whole world with Glory.” They repeated it again and again, filling all of space with their music and their joy. The blue and brown and white and green Earth looked so beautiful. It called to me. It whispered, “Home, home.” And then it happened again. Not suddenly, but slowly. Not like a flash of nuclear annihilation, but rather like a spreading darkness across the face of the Earth. A darkness that was not night, for following the wave of night is the wave of day. No, this was something altogether different. This felt irreversible, unchangeable, catastrophic. I saw the Earth change in a way that I can’t describe. It was like the lights went out, even though animals and vegetation and seas and air and forests were still there.
“Tara! Tara!” Through the fog of my dream, I could hear my name being called. The angels were calling out to me. They were desperate. They needed my help. “Tara!” I opened my eyes. It was Mummy. She was calling me. I smiled. “Tara. It’s me. Are you OK?” Beautiful Mummy. I must have looked at her a bit puzzled. “You were crying in your sleep. Look, your pillow is damp with your tears. What happened? Was it a bad dream? I didn’t know people could cry real tears while sleeping. Here, sit up and have some water.” She helped me sit up, placing pillows behind my back to support me. She handed me a cup with a straw. The water tasted so wonderful. It refreshed me like no other drink I could imagine. What a miracle. A simple glass of water. I thanked God for being water. “Was it a bad dream? Do you want to tell me about it?” I shook my head. “I see, not now. Later perhaps,” Mummy said, reading my mind. Good old Mummy. I tried to hug her, but the thing attached to my hand tugged and hurt. Instead, she put her arms around me and hugged me tight.
The next day, I was unhooked from the drip thing and the needle was removed from my hand. The doctor said that I had made a wonderful recovery, and that if all the tests were positive, I could go home in the evening. Until then, I was free to read or watch television. I decided to explore the hospital. Now that I was out of danger, Mummy and Daddy had gone home to sleep. They would be back later in the day, hopefully to take me home.
Dressed in my pale green hospital pajamas, I walked the long corridors of sickness and recovery, of dis-ease and healing. I smiled at everyone and everyone smiled back, no matter how much they were in dis-comfort. Whenever possible, I would touch them and in my heart bless them and pour light into them. God could not be sick; God could not be ill, no matter how the body seemed to malfunction or how the mind interpreted it.
At the end of the corridor was a room from which emanated a strange silence. The door was ajar. I stepped in. On the bed lay a man also dressed in pale green. I couldn’t tell how old he was – he wasn’t old but he wasn’t young, and yet he seemed as old as death and as young as birth. Tubes and wires emerged from his body to the suspended bags and to the monitors. But this man had something else – he had a wide tube that entered his throat. It was connected at the other end to a machine that seemed to be breathing. I edged towards the bed, careful not to disturb him. He couldn’t have been asleep because his eyes were half open, and no one except perhaps cats sleep with their eyes half open (fish sleep with their eyes fully open and that’s because they have no eyelids!). And yet his breathing was that of a sleeper. I waved my hand in front of his face – no reaction, not even a blink. His eyes didn’t even follow my hand. Nothing. What was wrong with him? Was he alive or dead? I gently touched his hand. No response. I felt for his spirit – it was there but very weak, very distant. But he was stubbornly holding on.
I heard a movement behind me. My heart jumped.
“You shouldn’t be here.” It was a nurse, one I didn’t know.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“You should be in bed.”
“Why doesn’t he hear me?”
“No he’s not. His eyes are open.”
She was standing next to me. “He’s in a coma. Now dear, come on, time to go.”
I shrugged off her hand from my shoulder. “What’s a coma?” I asked.
She puffed out her cheeks as she breathed out. She was obviously trying to decide how much to tell me, or maybe how to tell me. “There was an accident. He had a minor surgery, something that should have been routine, But when he woke up, he complained of a terrible headache and then passed out.” I looked at her questioningly. “He went to sleep.” She explained.
“He never woke up again?”
“He did for a while. At first we thought that it was just the after-effects of the anesthetic. But he couldn’t speak or swallow. And then he just kept sleeping for longer and longer periods until…”
“But what happened? I don’t understand.”
“You’re too young to understand, dear. Now off you go, back to your room.”
“No!” I said defiantly, “I want to know what happened to him! Why is his soul so far away? Why can’t it come back?” The nurse looked at me with the same look that many big people give me when Iyalk about souls and things. “It can’t come back. I know it. He will stay like this forever. He will never wake up.” I was choking on my tears.
The nurse’s eyes misted over. She crouched down and took me into her arms. “Something happened inside his brain,” she finally said, fighting back her tears, “There was bleeding. The doctors tried to help him but it was too late. The bleeding spread and blocked his brain – the part that thinks. He can’t think anymore. Only his body is still a live but he – he is dead.”
“But his eyes…”
“It’s called a reflex. Sometimes they’re open and sometimes they’re closed. Perhaps it’s the vegetable part of the brain still responding to day and night. No one knows.”
“But how can you be sure that he isn’t thinking or dreaming, that he won’t wake up tomorrow?”
“We’ve searched for brain waves that would tell us if he were thinking or even capable of thinking. But we found nothing.”
I started to cry. “But that means he’s just, just a body being kept alive, like, like a vegetable.” The nurse hugged me close as we both cried.
After a while she stood up and took me by my hand back to my room. Before she left me, I asked her: “What was his name?”
“Marty,” I repeated. “I will talk to God about him.” The nurse gave me another quizzical look and left.