The Paraclete

I walk into the hospital room. Robyn’s mother, Wilma, looks up at me from her hospital bed and smiles.

“What are you doing here, Gio? Is Robyn with you?”

“She’s at the nurse’s station, reading your chart.”

“That’s Robyn. I’m in good hands. You can tell her that.”

“Yes, I know.”

I stare up. A Paraclete floats over Wilma’s bed, a standing wave like a squared slice of cake made of ocean, a carpet made of blue, green, and gold strands woven so fine you can’t pull them apart yet with coloring so distinct you can easily see each when held in your hand, its top and edges a thick, whitish sea foam like a meringue.

She follows my gaze. “What are you looking at?”

It undulates and ripples even though it appears as an unmoving wave. It makes no sound, only waits. It covers Wilma with the sweet scent of caring, compassion, and hope.

“Do all hospital rooms have such high ceilings?”

The Paraclete waits. To comfort. To transport. To help Wilma finish her journey.

I look back at Wilma, use GrandMother’s eyes, see where she is diseased, how far it’s spread.

A disease of the heart. It weakens her body, tells her mind it’s time, asks her spirit to prepare, draws surety from her emotions.

She is ready. Also waiting. Except she doesn’t know.

I gaze back at The Paraclete. “How long have you been waiting?”

Wilma glances around. “Who are you talking to?”

She hears. It will not be long.

The Paraclete comes closer. It’s voices come on Infinity’s winds. “Long.” and “Not long.” is one word that isn’t a word at all.

I pet Wilma’s arm. “Let me go find Robyn.”

I stop her in the hall. “What did the nurses say?”

“She’s fine. A little dehydrated when she came in, that’s all.”

I shake my head. “She won’t make it through the night.”

“You’re sure?”

The Paraclete whispers. It has no sense of time. Clocks don’t exist in its land.

“I’m sure. Not long. Tomorrow morning at best.”

“I wish you didn’t tell me.”

“Would you be happier that way?”

We stand on either side of Wilma’s bed.

“Gio, would you rub my back?”

Robyn glances at me, catches my eye. She knows now. Wilma never asks me to do such things. Thirty-eight years together and her family knows nothing of my life. I’m a good provider, keep her safe, never abuse her. That’s enough.

“I never knew how soft your touch was, Gio. I always thought your hands were rough.”

A nurse comes in, tells us it’s time to leave.

I hold Wilma’s hand, kiss her forehead.

“You never kiss me.”

My kiss opens her slightly to the energies gathering around her, to The Paraclete coming closer, closer.

“I only kiss you when you need it. I’ll stay the night with you if you’d like.”

Her eyes flick up over my head, to where The Paraclete waits.

“No, I’ll be fine.” She smiles a good-bye.

We hurry back to the hospital early in the morning, an emergency call, Wilma is in the ICU, prepare for the worst.

The Paraclete no longer floats over her bed, most of it’s gone, only a small portion remains, waiting for Wilma to breathe her last. All that remains is the bottom edge of the carpet and a bit of the wave floating above and a bit beyond Wilma’s head.

Her body is on life support but most of her is no longer in it.

The Paraclete transports her, comforts her.

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

What remains of the wave forms a mouth with Wilma’s voice. “Will you be alright? Will Adam? Jeannie? Will you take care of yourselves? Will you take care of each other?”

I wait for the nurse to leave and lean over Wilma.

“It’s alright, Wilma. We’ll be okay. You can go now, if you want. We’ll take care of each other. We’ll keep each other safe. It’s okay. You don’t have to worry about us any more. And look! See? Bob’s waiting for you.”

The Paraclete opens its blanket, unleashes its wave.

Bob, her husband, gone over twenty-five years, stands on the wave, sits on the carpet, offers her his hand, a joyous look on his face, the love of his life comes to join him, welcomes her, lets her know it’s okay, her work is done.

The Paraclete gathers her in its waves, holds her next to Bob, slowly moves away.

(from The Shaman due for publication September 2023, Northern Lights Publishing)


Joseph Carrabis
Joseph Carrabis
Joseph Carrabis has been everything from a long-haul trucker to a Chief Research Scientist and holds patents covering mathematics, anthropology, neuroscience, and linguistics. He served as Senior Research Fellow and Board Advisor to the Society for New Communications Research and The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future; Editorial Board Member on the Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy; Advisory Board Member to the Center for Multicultural Science; Director of Predictive Analytics, Center for Adaptive Solutions; served on the UN/NYAS Scientists Without Borders program; and was selected as an International Ambassador for Psychological Science in 2010. He created a technology in his basement that's in use in over 120 countries. Now he spends his time writing fiction based on his experiences.

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