by: Dennis R. Humphreys
The town of Winnemucca is in Northern Nevada and is surrounded by beautiful mountains. Part of the year beginning in October the peaks are typically snow capped. Mornings and evenings display colors never imagined, even in pictures or paintings. Their color changes, as the sun moves, minute by minute. In fact if you have to run to get your camera to record an unbelievable scene, you're probably already too late to capture it when you get back.
The town is 4500 hundred feet up, exhibiting weather changes you wouldn't believe with temperatures in the surrounding high country desert being as high as one hundred thirty degrees in the summertime days, to forty degrees at night. There is little rain in the area and it's mostly sunny, however, the town isn't at a loss for clouds, especially low lying clouds that cause effects a special effects artist would envy.
Perhaps that's why when a large low flying cloud that floated in one day and encapsulated the entire town, wasn't interpreted as anything unusual.
Hannah Button felt differently though. She watched out her bedroom window as the cloud crept towards the town coming from the east. Her parent's house was on the east side of Winnemucca, just north of town and north of the Interstate. If she looked out her back door she could easily see Winnemucca mountain.
Hannah was an impressionable thirteen year old who believed in stories, myths and legends so it wasn't difficult for her to imagine that this occurrence meant something. Adults might look at it and see nothing different...just a regular low flying cloud, but if you looked closely and openned your mind you might discover nuances of a kind that said something different was happening.
She watched as the cloud slowly crept into town. It enveloped the mountain. She watched as it made other houses and buildings disappear from sight. Then she watched as it enveloped her own house and droplets of water beaded on her window that ran swiftly down in rivulets in zig zags until it met the window frame. Hannah felt something different in the house. There was a presence that was unaccountable. Her mother came into her room.
“Did you call?” she asked her daughter.
“No...I think it's the cloud,” she told her mother, but her nother just smiled, didn't ask why, and went about her business.
Hannah turned back to looking out her window. There seemed to be shadows in the cloud...light, indiscernible shadows, the kind when you strain your eyes and try to see details, the images become even more fleeting. However, there was one that seemed to be coming closer, directly at her, becoming more sharply defined. It was a human form. The way the figure walked, as she looked, was familiar. Hannah moved back from the window not sure what was happening and the figure seemed to come through the wall and solidified in her room. It was her dead grandmother. She had died six years earlier when Hannah was seven and just beginning the second grade. She remembered her well because she loved her dearly and the old woman always had time to spend with her talking.
Hannah sat there shocked, on one leg while she perched herself on the other on the floor by her bed.
“Grandmother?” she asked in disbelief.
“Hannah dear, it's so nice to see you again. I hadn't had a chance to say a proper goodbye when I passed since I did so in my sleep. It's something I always regretted. How are you dear?” the ninety year old lady asked.
Hannah ran to her grandmother and threw her arms around her waist, giving her a big hug. Meanwhile her mother came back in from the kitchen having heard her daughter talking to someone. When she came to the bedroom door and looked, she screamed.
“Now there's no need to scream, Linda, you act like you've seen a ghost...oh my, I suppose you have,” the woman replied laughingly with the same type of humor she had when she was alive
“It can't really be you,” Hannah's mother said disbelievingly.
“Oh yes it is. She came back to say goodbye to us,” Hannah told her mother still having her face nestled in her grandmother's chest.
“Why now after six years?” Linda asked.
“Oh my, it's been six years? There is no time here. You can blink your eyes and miss an entire century,” she informed her. “I didn't realize it has been that long. Now that you mention it, Hannah is so grown up!”
About that time the kitchen door openned and closed. It was Lindas's huband, the old lady's son, Jocko.
“Where's everybody,” he yelled. That best in the world dad and hubby's home.”
“Don't forgot the best son too,” the old lady shouted.
They could hear Jock's footsteps coming quickly from the other room to Hannah's bedroom. When he got in the doorway, his jaw dropped.
“What the hell?” he said looking at his mother.
“Don't say that word,” reprimanded his mother, “but come over here to your mother and give her a hug.”
He ran to her teary eyed and hugged her almost crushing Hannah in the process.
“We buried you six years ago mom. I don't understand,” he told her.
“Don't think for a minute you buried me alive, or that I'm one of those vampires. I am dead. I am a spirit but conditions are right, now I am a solid being for a time. I came in the cloud with many others who are visiting their families in this town.,” she explained.
“She came to say good bye,” Hannah piped up.
“Among other things, dear but I have, we all have six hours to stay before we have to leave. There are many other clouds engulfing the cities of the world giving spirits the ability to do the same as I am.”
“I don't understand,” Jocko admitted.
“I'll explain later. We have some time. Right now I want to enjoy my family,” the woman told them smiling pleasantly, feeling love for everyone in the room. But then, as a spirit that is the one thing you feel. Any animosities, or disenchantments or real regrets disappear. Only love can withstand the trials of death. The feeling is intense and raises you above the corporeal world.
Linda had prepared dinner. She always timed it so they could sit as a family when Jocko got home from work. It was important for Jocko and Linda to sit as a family, together over a meal. It had been just as important for Jocko's parents to sit with him, his two brothers and two sisters on the reservation growing up. Jocko's mother always espoused it was important and said 'a strong family made a strong tribe'.
As they sat down at the table Linda, put out the food.
“Will you eat with us?” she asked her mother-in-law.
“I wish I could, Linda, but I don't eat anymore,” she apologized.
“Having you here like this, I forgot,” Linda responded.
They ate together as a family, like it had been several years ago, laughing and remembering things together. They spoke of family and friends and the funny things remembered that give joy to a family. The close become closer at such times.
After dinner they looked at family albums. Hannah showed her the drawings she had made and some of her school work sharing with her grandmother the things she had missed.
“You know Hannah, I never really missed all those things you think I did since I died. I have always been here with you...your father and your mother. Both your grandfather and I have always been with you even though you normally can't see us, hear us or touch us. Just because we're dead doesn't mean we can't experience things,” she told Hannah who sat next to her on the sofa.
“Tell me what it's like,”: Hannah asked her.
“I told you about the love. That's the main thing. It will carry you for an eternity. You can go everywhere at anytime to any time and see the things you always wanted to see. We primarily try to help others. Sometimes it's difficult when you can't communicate directly. So we communicate through dreams and what I call 'nudging' to try and steer good people the right way,” she told Hannah.
“You said good people. How about the bad people?” Hannah asked.
“We try to help them too, the ones that are basically good but because of circumstances do bad things but truly bad people can't be helped. They follow the dark side and that stain can never be washed out. They are intrinsically tied to the dark side,” she explained to her granddaughter.
“Mother, you said you'd explain why you're here,” her son interrupted.
“The cloud I came in and the others, and the other clouds are part of where we live. Heaven has fallen and may never rise again if people continue to lose their faith. We are all part of something greater and we need to recognize this. Few recognize now the greater power there is and our ties to each other. Many have lost the respect there once was. Fewer still, pray and give thanks for what they have. Honoring, doing unto others as you would have them do to you seems forgotten. In this world of complexity and lack of time it is important to take the time and sit together to eat and share the love and experiences we have. Experiences are not meant to be hidden, they are meant to be shared, both good and bad. We can laugh and enjoy the good ones together and together provide the support needed for the bad experiences,” the old lady apostlelized.
“Is this the same message everyone else is getting here and throughout the world from past loved ones coming from the clouds out there?” Linda asked her mother-in-law.
“It is. This is not to be taken lightly and forgotten. If heaven falls what happens to those wishing to enter, or worse yet the millions who are here? I'll tell you now if heaven falls, love is lost and so are the souls of mankind, past and present. All existence will be questioned and its purpose rendered to nothing more than the work of the ant. There are those that would wish this to happen. They are evil in nature and they follow a lord of a different kind. These are the bad people I spoke of earlier that only do bad things. They are self indulgent and only want, want, want. They clamor it is their right and their neighbor knows nothing and is undeserving of what they have. Beware of them, their righteousness is a smoking mirror of deceipt. They relish others' pain while pampering their indulgences,” she warned them.
Hannah listened closely and so did her parents not fully understanding the words but in time they would. Who can deny the wisdom of a woman who lived a life of corporeal existence for ninety years with access to the wisdom of eternity on the other side?
“I feel it's my time to depart again for one last time. You won't see me again in this life, but please do as I ask and raise heaven to where it should be. You will make many souls happy again including your own,” she ended.
With that she hugged and kissed everyone one last time and walked to the wall where she passed through to the waiting cloud. Hannah ran to the window trying to peer into the darkness of the night. It looked like fog but everywhere there were spots of light entering the cloud and moving towards the center to a greater light. Then it was gone.