Everything has a cause and an effect. This simple, universal law of motion induces a chain reaction. Some chain reactions are intelligently coordinated. Like how trees grow seeded fruit, which animals will eat, and pass the seeds through their digestive systems until the seeds come back out, pre-fertilized among animals’ bowel movements. Then the seeds can go on to germinate, and grow into new fruit trees, bringing more fruit to animals’ future generations. Keeping the cycle of life in motion. On the other hand, some chain reactions are caused by senseless stupidity, and their effects are tragic.
It started with two mature aged men who were acting way below their years, while getting drunk at a sports bar. After too many beers and shots, they got in an argument about whose favorite basket ball team was the better one. The argument was funny, at first. Then wisecracking trash talk about each other’s basketball teams lead to exchanges of insults. The insults got more and more explicit and belittling until one threatened the other that he was going to follow him home, and beat his ass, and then fuck his girlfriend. The other challenged him to go ahead with this threat. They left the bar, still cussing one another out. Then they got in their cars, and headed toward their city’s hugest intersection.
They passed each other, several times, shouting insults through their open windows, as they did. One through empty root beer cans and fast food garbage at the other’s car, which pelted other cars instead. There was much angry horn honking and explicit shouts from other drivers, but the two drunken rivals were too focussed on their battle to take notice. They caught up with each other, driving side by side. The other taunted the garbage thrower, by showing him the pictures on his phone, through his driver’s side window. They were pictures of a naked woman’s breasts, butt, and crotch. He shouted to the other that the pictures were of the other’s girlfriend. The other lost control of himself, and lunged across his passenger seat, intending to open the door, and punch the phone out of his rival’s hand. As he intended this, he carelessly swerved his car into an on-coming RV in another lane. The drunken rivals realized too late, that they had reached the intersection. The impact of the collision caused a chain reaction of other collisions. The guy holding the phone panicked. In his drunken state, he stupidly thought he could simply back up his car, and flee the scene. This caused a bigger, more violent pile-up.
A retired couple’s bucket list Orlando dream vacation was ruined. Twenty-three people were injured, which caused multiple chain reactions that started with unaffordable medical expenses, insurance problems, an increase in debts, family drama, stress, grief, depression, anger, trauma, struggle, abusive self medication, rifts in relationships, and a horrific memory that would replay itself in accident victims’ and witnesses’ nightmares. Two among the injured twenty-three were flown by helicopter, to the nearest ICU, where they eventually died.
It was only a little after nine O’clock, on a Friday night. Daphne Morgan and her friends were on their way to another friend’s house. They were all looking forward to trying out his new HD virtual reality gaming system. This friend’s parents were away for the weekend. So he got one of his other friend’s twenty-three-year-old brother to buy plenty of beer, wine coolers, and vodka for all the under-aged drinkers who were coming over. Daphne and her friends were expecting this night to be a blast. The thought that her life could suddenly end, never would’ve crossed Daphne’s mind, on a night like this. She didn’t have even the slightest intuitive bad feeling that she would be leaving this world, at 1:06 a.m.
Daphne was a high school sophomore. Like most teenagers, she assumed that she had a full long life ahead of her. She lived in the present. Her friends now, seemed like they were going to be her clique of friends forever. And having to be an independent, responsible adult seemed like something she wouldn’t have to worry about until the far-off future. Another school week was thankfully over, and she and her friends were relishing in the carefree, Friday night feeling. They talked more excitedly and laughed at a fuller volume, about all things interesting in their teenage worlds—school gossip, rappers, celebrity Instagram pics, and their knowledge about virtual reality games. Also, like a lot of teenagers, Daphne had her I-Phone with her, and was multi-tasking. Bouncing back and forth between her conversations, and Twitter. She never would’ve imagined that her last words would be a tweet, commenting on her distant cousin, Monique’s picture post.
Ouch! That sweater’s a little loud. But the barrettes go with it. Cute pile of hair#1982
It all happened too quickly for Daphne’s mind to comprehend. A sudden hellish noise explosion of glass, metal, brakes screeching and shrill voices. The impact from the front of an SUV smashing into the side of the car, where Daphne sat, was too quick for her to feel. The whole right side of her body, from her hip to her collar bone, was severely crushed, causing fatal injuries to her liver, lungs, kidney, gall Blatter, appendix, and intestines, but she felt no pain, or had no awareness of it all. Too Daphne, after the hellish noise explosion, she slipped away into silent, black nothingness.
Seconds later, it seemed, she felt kind of awake, but not quite. Nothing but dark gray fog was all around her. This fog became patched and streaked with beautifully lit colors, like festive fireworks. But these fireworks didn’t boom. They sounded like musical notes from every instrument. The notes didn’t come together and make a song, but their music sounded happy. Nonsensical images appeared within the musical colors. Some made nonsensical noises, as they floated past Daphne. The Conscience and sub conscience within her living brain was shutting down. Through it all, she heard snippets of what was going on around her. People’s voices, a heart monitor and respirator, and her mom and little sisters crying. She felt a distant awareness that she was within a body that couldn’t move. And that she was in a hospital bed, bound to a life support system, and surrounded by doctors, nurses, and her bereaved family. However, she felt a strange sense of detachment to it all. Like she no longer had any association with the hospital and the people in it, or even her own family. Even more strange, this sense of detachment felt peaceful and very calming. It also felt normal. As normal of a part of human existence as eating and sleeping. It was her first time experiencing this feeling, yet it felt familiar. As though she had gone through it, some distant time ago. She lingered in this colorful, musical haze of detached calm for a little while until something told her, like an ancient instinct, to let herself go, completely. She didn’t need to wonder how. It was an act of will that felt as natural as exhaling.
The music and colors, and all awareness of hospital surroundings disappeared. She was gently floating upward, surrounded by crystals that glowed and glimmered with brilliant, silver-white light. Her peaceful calm instantly turned to the most intense happiness that she had never felt before, while on Earth. All the joy brought on by every childhood Christmas morning, and birthday party, combined together, couldn’t match up to this heavenly level of ecstasy. She also felt pure and flawless, but not in any conceded way. Like the faults she had, during her life on Earth, didn’t matter anymore.
Then each crystal of light grew in size until it became a movie-like projection of a memory. All the memories came together, fully surrounding her in a beautiful mosaic of sentiments, fleeting phases, lessons learned and taught, joys and hardships, and all the thoughts, words and actions that made up Daphne’s life. It was a track record of her every living minute, but there was nothing creepy and Big Brotherly about it. Seeing people that she hadn’t seen in years, and re-living things in the past, that she had completely forgotten about, was the most amazing thing she had ever experienced. Even though not everything on her track record was good. She re-lived every time she was mean to someone else, every time she hurt someone’s feelings, or made an embarrassment out of herself, or when she was moody and bitchy. Still, this didn’t take away from the amazement of it all. Something told her that she is forgiven. The message was all feeling, and no words. Like she had an invisible best friend made of pure, unconditional love. Then the reality of it all finally hit her.
“Did I really die?” she asked the mosaic of memories.
“Yes”, the unconditional love seemed to say.
A dark haired woman in a blue gown suddenly appeared beside her. She took Daphne by the hand, as the memories became crystals again. Then the crystals parted, like beaded curtains, and they glided weightlessly into a room made of the same glimmering, silver-white light. Once they were in this room, the woman let go of her hand, and turned to face her. She looked like a remarkably beautiful human, accept that her fair skin had the same brilliant glimmer as the surrounding light. Her blue gown sparkled and shined, like Celeste you’ll ocean water, but her hair fascinated Daphne the most. It was long, curly and black, but its blackness somehow glowed like the sun. Something that would be visually impossible on Earth. The woman’s eyes were mirrors that reflected Daphne’s blissfully happy face. “I know you have other questions for me.” she encouraged.
“Am I ever going to see my family again?” Daphne asked.
“Of course,” said the woman. “You can see them as much as you’d like to.”
“Are you an angel?” said Daphne.
“Yes,” said the woman. “In one perspective, I am. I’m also part of God, and I’m part of you too.”
Daphne thought that all angels have wings. She didn’t think that an angel would talk like a modern person either, assuming that everyone in Heaven spoke like the people in the Bible. “Why did I have to die, when I’m only sixteen?” she wondered. “I didn’t do anything with my life yet, or become anybody.”
“Yes you have,” said the angel, giving her a gentle smile. “The somebody that you had become, was Daphne Skyler Morgan, and you did a lot with your life.” The angel’s mirrored eyes became portals that somehow drew Daphne inside them. She was suddenly in the living room of a house that she hadn’t lived in, since she was four. It was night time. Her parents were sitting on a worn-out, second-hand couch, watching wrestling, and eating pop corn. Her mom was heavily pregnant. John Sina and Randy Orten entered the ring, and her parents got more and more riled up, as the match went on. They jumped around the living room, whooping and clapping, and fist pumping until the excitement of it all made her mom go into labor. “You grew and developed in your mom’s womb, into a healthy baby who made your parents so happy…” Daphne saw herself as a newborn, being held by her parents, who were crying tears of joy. She was back inside a life reviewing, except that the projections that surrounded her, came one at a time. “You learned how to walk and talk and eat and sing…” The angel wasn’t with her, as she floated through these images, but she could hear her reassuring voice, narrating it all. “…Then you took an interest in construction…” Daphne saw herself as a two-year-old, feeling proud of the Lego sky scrapers that she had built. “You wanted to cure all sadness, by hugging the whole world…” Still two years old, Daphne saw a brief phase where she wanted to hug everyone and everything she saw, from visiting relatives, and the mail man, to house plants and the laundry basket. All while giving them whatever compliments she knew how to say. Daphne floated through dozens more of her fleeting childhood interests. Like when she joined Girl Scouts, and raced go-carts, and attempted to start a pop group with her friends. As one image after another continued passing by, Daphne realized that she did do a lot, during her short life, but it wasn’t stuff that really mattered. She had lead an average, mundane life, with no special accomplishments. She didn’t do anything to make a difference in the world, or at least in her own community. Her heavenly bliss was darkened a little, by regret. She had taken her life for granted. If she knew that she was going to die, at sixteen, she would’ve started a charity fund, or donated her allowance to St. Jude’s hospital, or the Smile Train. Rather than spending it on things for herself, like clothes, nail polish, and going to the movies. She wouldn’t have allowed herself to be so fickle with her interests and hobbies. Instead, she selfishly made her parents spend hundreds, maybe thousands of their hard earned dollars, on toys, projects, lessons, and club memberships that she often lost interest in, within a few months, or a few weeks. She would’ve made her mom happy, by keeping her room clean and tidy, instead of making fun of her mom, for nagging, and getting huffy. She would’ve made both parents happy, by not allowing herself to get C’s on her Report card, because she slacked off in the subjects she resented. She would’ve helped her elderly neighbors out, by doing yard work for them, or running Aaron’s for them. Instead of seeing them as too old and boring to be worth spending time with.
“I did a lot of stuff, but I didn’t do things that really mattered,” said Daphne. “I wish I didn’t spend so much time being selfish and lazy, and goofing off.”
“Everything you did mattered.” said the angel’s voice.
“I hung out with my friends, and spent too much time on Twitter, when I should’ve been out there, making a difference in something.” said Daphne.
“Everything you did matters,” the angel said again. Daphne’s life review was suddenly replaced by thousands of images of things like, church food drives, Mother Theresa, charity address labels, Dr. Martin Luther King, websites for social programs, Albert Einstein, T-shirts for fund raisers, The Beetles, and countless other images of people and things that made a difference. “People have a misconception that they have to do something great and memorable, to make a difference on the world. Something that gets noticed, and shows results, and gets feedback. Something that has its own website and phone number, or community event, or newsletter. It’s unfortunate that people feel lowered in self worth, if they don’t do something that will make a noticeable difference. They feel that they need to make their mark on the world, and leave behind a legacy. It’s always a wonderful thing to do, to start charities and organizations that could help improve others lives, or to invent something that would help clean up the environment, and so on. But if you didn’t do anything of this sort, during your life, it doesn’t make you any less important or less significant to the world. The truth is, that everything you do makes a difference, whether it’s big or small. whether it’s talked about all over social media, or goes on unnoticed. An act as simple as turning a page in a book, could make a difference.”
“How?” Daphne laughed.
“Deciding to read the next page means reading a new set of words. Reading a new set of words will change the thoughts simultaneously going through your mind. This change of thoughts can alter your mood and brain chemistry. This alteration can have an effect on how you interact with other people, after you’re done reading. Then how you interacted with them can effect how they interact with others, and the chain reaction of cause and effect goes on and on.”
Daphne smiled at a memory from two years ago, when she read a badly written comic book that was so stupid, it cracked her up. When a friend called, so much laughing put Daphne in a bubbly mood. As she and her friend talked, her bubbly mood gradually lifted her friend’s melancholy mood. The uplift helped her friend bounce bak from his latest troubles, and get through his shift at McDonald’s, which encouraged him to stick with his job. Then because he kept his job, he was able to save up enough money to help pay for his beloved puppy’s heart worm treatment. Then the sickly puppy was able to grow up into a healthy dog. The chain reaction would’ve been completely different, if Daphne decided that the comic book was a waste of time, and turned it back in to the library, before she finished it.
“Yes, now you get it,” said the angel. “Everything you did in your life made a difference.” The flurry of images changed again, to images of mundane to spectacular, to natural to microscopic chain reactions going on all over the world. “Everything that every person, plant, animal, and micro organism does with their lives makes a difference. Everything on the world is linked together by the non-stop chain of cause and effect, and back to cause, and so on, making differences every nanosecond of every day.”
Daphne felt a slight pang of guilt, at the thought of all the negative chain reactions she had probably caused.
“Yes, you had done things that caused bad chain reactions, but everybody and everything that lives on Earth does. There’s no preventing it, no matter how good you try to be. It’s part of the challenge of living. You’ve done a lot of bad things in your life, Daphne, but you’ve done many, many more good things. You were a fantastic person with a positive attitude, and a heart full of honest, good intentions. That’s why you’re hear.” Then Daphne was pushed out of the portals in the angel’s eyes, and was standing in front of her again, in the room of silver-white light.
“I get the whole, making a difference thing now,” said Daphne, as the angel took her by the hand again, and lead her through one of the room’s walls, which opened up, like brilliant, silver-white curtains. “But I’m just wondering, if I had to die, before I had the chance to graduate high school, and go to collage, and find a career, and get married, and have kids and stuff. Then what was my life purpose?”
“The same purpose as everybody else’s,” said the angel, as they started down a long hallway. “Whether someone is a grocery bagger, a world famous movie star, a person with severe autism, or a person who does a lot of getting out there, and making big differences in the world, the sole purpose of everybody’s existence is to live and experience life.” They were now walking down a hallway made of vines that were covered with pastel colored roses. pleasantly warm sunlight peaked through gaps between the flowers. Something told Daphne that it wasn’t sunlight she was seeing and feeling. It was God’s love. God loved her, and God loved the short life of Daphne Skyler Morgan. Her former existence no longer seemed like it was lacking. She now felt greatly honored to have experienced her life on a world so amazing and fascinating, and teaming with diverse wonders and walks of life. A world full of art, music, education, different languages and food recipes, holidays, and the making of constant discoveries. The love and thankfulness in her heart emanated warmth and light that beamed back at God.
The hallway ended at a very plain and ordinary looking wooden door. The door opened, and there was Daphne’s great-aunt Kit. She was the aunt of her grandfather, on her mom’s side of the family, and she was Daphne’s favorite relative, growing up. Kit looked like the stereo typical, boney old lady, but she acted more like a big kid. She was always into all kinds of fun and creative hobbies, which Daphne was welcomed to participate in. Every time Daphne and her family visited Kit, she always had homemade candy and ice cream ready for them. When Kit died from a stroke, at the age of 91, Daphne took it the hardest. She grieved all through her summer break until the starting of 8th grade, and a crush on a new boy snapped her out of it. Now here she was, reunited with aunt Kit, less than three years later.
Kit and Daphne greeted each other with big hugs, and an exchange of girlish gushing. Then Kit handed her a homemade caramel filled chocolate. The candy was sweet, creamy, and super rich. Tasting just like how Daphne remembered it. The angel joined them, as they entered a joyously festive, crowded room. The room had no walls, and no ceiling, and it seemed to have no end. Where walls and a ceiling would be, there were millions of different colored lights. The most beautiful, up-beat music filled the room, and so did the sounds of happy conversations, laughter, and singing. This was a welcoming party for Daphne. She spotted a banquet table that looked long enough to stretch across Florida. Every single one of her favorite junk foods, sodas, and coffee drinks were spread out on it. Among this spread, was all 54 kinds of candy that aunt Kit used to make, and all 80 flavors of ice cream, shurbert, and sorbet.
Aside from aunt Kit, Daphne reunited with other people that she thought were gone forever. Her next-door neighbors from her early childhood were there. They had both died from age related health problems, Daphne’s first best friend, who had died of leukemia, before they finished kindergarten was there. Her fifth grade math teacher, who also died in a car accident, was there too, and many other familiar faces. Relatives that passed away, before Daphne’s limited living brain could retain memory of them. And there were people who she didn’t know had died, because either she, or her family had drifted apart from them, years ago. All of the family pets she lost through the years, were there to greet her too. It was so exciting and reassuring to know that she never truly lost them. They were here in this rhelm, all along, ready to meet up with her, when her earthly life was completed.
Daphne danced, without experiencing tiredness, sore feet, or getting out of breath. She ate and drank, without feeling overstuffed and bloated. She played with her pets, and met ancestors who came from time periods further and further back. They had lots of fascinating stories to tell, about the past. Everybody at the party, including Daphne, shared their knowledge and wisdom that they gained, from their earthly lives. This knowledge and wisdom intermingled with the beautiful, up-beat music, and all the colorful lights, and delicious tastes and smells of the food. It intermingled with the dancing and singing and laughter, and the unearthly level of happiness that flowed through everything and everyone at this welcoming party. It all became one with God’s perfection and unconditional love.
Daphne Morgan’s body was cremated, and her memorial service was held, the following Saturday. Daphne attended her own service, just out of curiosity. She wondered what people would say about her, and if she made any positive difference in their lives. Aunt Kit came with her, and so did a couple of ancestors. Going from one rhelm to another was as easy as blinking your eyes. All they had to do was will themselves to be back on Earth, and at Daphne’s memorial service, and they were instantly there. No going through tunnels or portals required. Daphne didn’t even feel any physical sensation of traveling.
It was a sunny late morning. The service was held at a non-denominational church that Daphne and her family had stopped attending, two years ago, because of her dad’s work schedule. Mom could’ve taken her and her sisters, but mom made excuses about wanting to spend Sunday catching up on house work and paperwork. The truth was, she didn’t want to have to wake up early, on a weekend morning, anymore. Daphne’s family attended church, more out of habit, just because generations of both sides of the family always attended church. Her parents never put their hearts and souls into their faith, or taught Daphne and her sisters to live the Christian way. While in Heaven’s rhelm, Daphne was told that going to church is the right thing to do, for a lot of people. However, one doesn’t have to go to church, to become a truly spiritual person.
Daphne watched all the people filing into the church. Most of her classmates were there, and some teachers. Several relatives showed up, including cousin Monique, who had flown from Virginia. All of her friends and their families were there too, including those who were in the car with her, during the accident. They were all out of the hospital, and wearing casts and bandages. The girl who was driving the car was the least hurt. The impact just banged up her left foot, and the left side of her face.
The friend who hurt the most was the one who invited them over his house, that night. He felt like the lowest piece of crap in the room, believing that Daphne’s death was his fault. After the big crash, the friends who were able to reach for their phones, while being squished in a partially crushed car, texted him about the accident. As the terrible night went on, they texted him updates on how each of them was doing. They texted him about Daphne too, but they tried to make it sound like she was OK, just unconscious. He saw the pile-up on the news, and had a gut feeling that one of his friends wasn’t going to make it through the night. after he got the text that Daphne died, he spent the rest of the night, playing the most violent, gory VR game that he owned, and binging on beer until he passed out.
Feeling his depression and self loath made Daphne almost want to cry. She wanted so badly to get it through to him, that her death was not his fault. It was the two drunk drivers’ fault. She tried to comfort him, by sending him God’s peace and love. She could feel that he felt this, but he chose to deny it, and ignore it, because he felt that there was no good reason to feel peaceful. Kit reassured her that he was going to have a rough journey ahead of him, but he would make it through.
Daphne felt awful for everybody at her memorial service. Especially her family. Her mom wept the whole time, and her dad struggled to choke through a sentimental speech about his favorite memories of his daughter. Her poor sisters stayed seated in a front pue, locked in a daze. A lot of the attendants spoke of their memories about Daphne, which had her deeply touched. The only thing that bothered her about this, was how they kept mentioning that Daphne’s life had ended, before it even began. Daphne knew now that, not only was this a misconception, people have another misconception that there is a set rule on how long people’s lives should be. And that children are not supposed to die before their parents. This is not true. Not everyone who is born on Earth is supposed to live until a ripe old age. It’s the same reason why, not everybody who is born on Earth, is going to get married, and have three children. Or why not everybody who is born on Earth, is going to have a successful dream career. Everybody’s life experience is meant to be different, including how long or short each life experience is. We are all interconnected, but our life experiences being individually different keeps this interconnection, and its causes and effects moving, changing, growing, and living.
Daphne knew now, that death is another misconception. When people go back to God, after they die, they become one with God. God is the purely positive energy that shapes the universe, and binds all life together. The force of nature that makes stars and planets move, and gives all life its intelligence. God’s love is what motivates everything to keep going. To keep growing and experiencing and learning. To keep life restoring itself, after life is lost, and to keep re-creating. Daphne’s life wasn’t snuffed out or robbed from her. Her physical life just came to an end, at a time when it wasn’t expected to, which caused a lot of pain for others who are still experiencing their lives. Daphne wished she had a way to get through to all the saddened people in the church. She wanted to tell them that she wasn’t dead. She had just morphed into another type of life. She was part of God. Part of everything in the world around them. Part of the energy that makes flowers bloom, and baby birds hatch, and who orchestrates ways to answer people’s prayers.
As the memorial service was coming to an end, Daphne, aunt Kit, the ancestors, and God conjured up God’s love, and filled the whole church with it. Daphne was pleased to see that people were smiling. Her parents stopped crying, and her sisters snapped out of their daze, and realized that they were hungry for tacos. They all knew that this feeling of happy peaceful calm was from Daphne Morgan. It comforted them to think that her spirit was there, and she was thanking them for a beautiful service.
She followed her family, as they walked back to the car. They were smiling, and talking animatedly, as though they were leaving a shopping plaza, instead of a funeral. Daphne was happy to see this, and happy about how easy it was to see her family, any time she wanted to. She thought about the welcoming parties that would be thrown for each of them. Then they would all be part of God together, and live beyond the time when the sun novas, and the nova’s minerals and gasses would disperse into the universe to create more stars, worlds, and more life. Life that would keep going on, by the power of God’s love.