You have to be taught to be dead. Sounds odd, right? You’d think it would just be something that happens to a person. The trick about nonbeing is, however, that you don’t even notice. For a long time, I was just stuck in the ether, without even realizing that I was in the afterlife. Santiago found me. It’s his job, after all: find all the confused souls who didn’t make it to…wherever…on the first try and get them on the path to completing their purpose. I still find that a bit of a raw deal. We spend our entire lives having to wonder about “what am I supposed to do with my life?” and it turns out there are things we are supposed to do with our death, too. Bogus.
So anyway, there I was—nonbeing. And all of a sudden, I heard this thing. Heard isn’t quite right, of course. Without ears, you aren’t interacting with any sound waves. But the thought transmission arrived in my consciousness, saying my name over and over again. Finally, I managed to think “what?” And he was very pleased:
“Ah, good! You’ve realized.”
“That you’re dead.”
To be fair, at this point, that hadn’t really occurred to me.
“You’re dead, but you haven’t moved on yet. So, I am here to help you.”
“Does that mean that I’m a ghost?”
I mean, of all possible outcomes—nonexistence, heaven, hell, an eternity in cold space—being a ghost was, it seemed at the time, the best-case scenario. One problem:
“I can’t see anything.”
“You don’t have eyes.”
“Don’t worry, though, with a little focus you can begin interacting with the photons all over again.”
“Wait, they’re called ‘photons’ in the afterlife?”
“Well, only until you learn the new passwords. For now, you’re a newbie.”
“Wait a minute. Who are you?”
“Santiago. Now, I need you to—”
“I’ve never heard of you.”
“Well, you don’t get VIP treatment. You weren’t even famous while living.”
“That matters after I’m dead?”
“Technically, no. But it can be more fun. The living will get more excited about a haunting by a famous ghost. You know how they are.”
“Sure, you need to figure out who you are going to haunt. It’s why you’re a ghost.”
“I get to haunt?”
“You have to haunt.”
Honestly, I hit the jackpot.
“Ok, now, I’m going to give you a series of commands. This is to help you begin to observe the world again.”
“Where am I right now?”
“If you could see, you’d be in your urn of ashes.”
“You haven’t gone anywhere yet. That’s why I’m here.”
“You mean I’m just hovering around my dead body?”
“Basically. We’ll use those terms for now. So, are you ready?”
It seemed kind of a waste that my spirit, now free from my body and all, was wasting time just hanging around the ashes. Of course, at the time, I was still referring to it as “my spirit,” which was now all that I was. I still couldn’t see, but Santiago was going to help me with that.