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out of the house. We never talked about it, and I didn‘t bring it up again. Alice was my only friend.


/// One afternoon just before Christmas my mom and dad showed up at


school together. I was called down to the office and told to go by my locker and collect my stuff. We drove all night to a hospital in Saint Louis. My grandpa was very ill, and he might not live through the night. When we arrived in the morning the priest was just leaving. My grandpa was a big, gruff man; I used to be afraid of him. But he looked small and pale in that hospital bed. His color reminded me of an old shirt that has been washed too many times. My mom said, ―Dad? Sammy‘s here, and Paul... We‘re all here to say


goodbye, dad. Can you hear me?‖ She motioned me to come closer. I really wanted to get away from that room. If I let myself, I could be


somewhere else in a moment, but it would be hard to explain. I moved up next to him, and he mumbled. I asked, ―What did you say grandpa?‖ I sat down in the chair next to the bed. My mom said, ―listen Sam,


you stay here with him for a bit. Your dad and I are going for coffee. Do you want anything?‖ I shook my head. I sat there listening to his breathing; he had those little tubes under his


nose, and he wheezed with every exhale. I looked around the room. There was a plastic bed pan; a vase of wilting flowers, the TV remote–it seemed so sad and superficial that my big strong grandfather was dying in such a cruddy little room. He suddenly opened his eyes, but he wasn‘t looking at me. He said,


very clearly, ―I don‘t know how to do this.‖ ―Do what grandpa?‖ ―I can‘t find it; I can‘t find the door…‖ I thought of the time in the ice bath. My mom told me that I had a 106


degree fever, and they were afraid I was going to die. It gave me an idea, I said, ―Can you see an orange light, grandpa?‖ ―Where‘s the light? I can‘t find the light.‖ He was only taking short,


little breaths. I imagined the pulsing orange light with the yellow around the edges.


I looked into the image in my mind and noticed that it was like a flame. Little blue sparks shot out of the center like ribbons. I was standing in front of an open doorway with the orange light radiating from the room on the other side. It wasn‘t hot or anything. My grandpa was standing next to me


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