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A Matter of Death and Life
By Dave Franco

It was just a regular day for 17-year-old Sonya Andrew, much like every other. There was breakfast as usual, school, lunch, the end-of-school bell at 3:10 and the same walk home. It was one of those ordinary afternoons that are so ordinary, her mind would have no reason to consider that her life was about to change forever.

Sonya’s friend Annie was standing on the corner under the shade of a tree when Sonya walked up. They chatted for a few minutes until a grey 66 VW bus drove up and caught Annie’s attention. She called the driver over. It was her friend, Eric who was driving no place in particular. Maybe home. Maybe not.   

Eric pulled up alongside the girls and suddenly Sonya got a glimpse of her future. He was beautiful. His smile was kind and his eyes couldn’t hide the goodness in his heart if they wanted to. She was smitten.

“Eric, this is Sonya,” Annie said. 

“Hi Sonya,” he said with a hand forward.

“Hi—Sonya,” she blurted out, realizing the blunder that surely must have betrayed the feelings going on inside her. It turned out Eric was a sucker for cute. 

Eric tried to see Sonya again and Sonya tried to be seen again. When they did go out, they found they were perfect together. Sonya was deeply in love with Eric’s bad boy exterior and heart-of-gold soul. He was a wilderness survival instructor for troubled teens, the life of every party, charismatic and giving to a fault. He’d make a complete stranger feel like a friend for years. What was not to love?

They were quickly inseparable and neither had the perception to see that the rest of humanity had simply gone away. For all intents and purposes, they were the only two people in the world.

A year and a half later, they were engaged and Sonya was amazed that she loved him more now than she did when they met.

Sonya’s frustrated friends had finally had enough and asked her to join them at the beach for a little girl time. She gave in. 

A tarot card reader had set up a table near where the girls were sunning and she thought it would be fun to see if he might tell her she’s going to find a million dollars or win a new car. 

“Someone you love is going to die,” said the tarot card reader.

“Someone you love is going to die,” said the tarot card reader. She was shocked and mad. She had gone to him looking for a little fun and he was poking her where she was the most sensitive. One thing for sure, she was going to keep her experience with the tarot card reader to herself.

Early on the morning of March 4, 1994, the phone rang and her mom answered. On the other end of the phone was Eric’s mother calling to see if Sonya had been in the car.

“What car?” she asked.

The evening before, Eric’s friend Jeremiah had asked Eric to go with him to buy a car. When Jeremiah arrived to pick up Eric, another friend was behind the wheel—drunk. Still, Eric got in.  After all, they were going just three miles.

Jeremiah and his friend walked away from the crash, but Eric had been thrown from the car as it turned over and over and ultimately came to a stop on top of Eric, crushing his lungs. He died on the side of the road.

When her parents sat her down and gave her the news, she nearly burst out of her own skin. 

“Daddy, bring him back!” she pleaded.

“...Honey, no I can’t.”

“DADDY, GO BRING HIM BACK!” she begged with tears bursting from her eyes. She began to rip the pictures from the walls and thrash the house with a deep, terrible howl. When her dad finally wrestled her to the ground, she screamed at the top of her lungs what she had hoped to hide until after the wedding. 

“I’m pregnant!” she shrieked. It was devastating. Eric, with one poor decision, left not one, but two people alone in the world. 

The only noise in the waiting room of the crematorium were Sonya’s sniffles as she waited for Eric’s ashes. They presented to her what appeared to be a hospital trash bin filled with fine dirt.  She sat there alone with the bin, trying to make sense of what had just happened. Just two days before, she rested her head on his lap as they watched TV, his arm across her chest.  Now, Eric was dark, loveless ash lying in plastic on her lap. 

Now, Eric was dark, loveless ash lying in plastic on her lap.

The days and weeks that followed were unbearable with time moving tortuously slow. Sonya felt as though she had forgotten how to breathe or eat. She labored with every task no matter how simple. She began to mark the time. “I’ve got 60 or so more years to live,” she told herself. “How will I even make just one without him?”

The more days that passed, the more she felt herself slipping away under the pain and hopelessness. If she had any belief in God, it was now gone. She had said her prayers when she was a little girl and asked God to protect her. But now, years later, she could see that He simply didn’t exist. She was, and always had been, alone.

For a brief moment, she thought about killing herself. But what if stories she had heard about reincarnation were true? If so, she might come back in the form of a lower being, such as an insect. She had to stay viable so Eric would recognize her if their lives ever crossed, no matter how many centuries it took.

Besides, she had to be there for their son, Eric’s son.

She looked to the skies. “Oh, Eric, are you out there?” she pleaded. “A person as good as you doesn’t simply go away forever. Where are you? How can I reach you?” Then one day, there was a glimpse of hope.

Watching a TV show, she saw a woman who was a famous medium and spiritualist, tell a young lady calling into the show all that she had in her car and how it was going to cause the car to crash if she didn’t get it out. The young lady confirmed that everything the spiritualist said was dead on. Sonya stood and came close to the TV with her eyes welling up. “Eric,” she whispered. A tear rolled down her cheek.

Sonya learned that the spiritualist was holding a seminar close by. Hell itself wouldn’t keep her from being there. She bought her ticket and entered the room and immediately that twinge of hope she had while watching the TV show came flooding back. The spiritualist spoke to the deceased. For brief moments, she reunited people with loved ones. She blurred the lines between the living and the dead. 

When the master of ceremonies called out a number, it matched the number on Sonya’s ticket and she ran to the microphone to ask a question—of course it would be about Eric. The spiritualist told her all about Eric and even how he died. Sonya was sold.

She didn’t tell them her only reason for being there was to find her beloved Eric.

She contacted the spiritualist’s organization and pursued her inner circle. They were impressed with her desire to know more about the psychic world. She didn’t tell them her only reason for being there was to find her beloved Eric. They taught her how to hypnotize people and perform Past Life Regression, where people find out who they were in their past lives throughout the ages. The organization put her right to work.

She began to travel with the spiritualist and time spent with her seemed fruitful. She would tell Sonya things that Eric was trying to tell her—things that only Sonya and Eric would ever know. She even told her that Eric wanted Sonya to remember a poem he had written for her and she recited some of the verses. Sonya had to go home and find the poem in a notebook that was stowed away in a closet. When she read the poem, the spiritualist’s recitation was verbatim. 

She was being treated like a star, making friendships within the organization, traveling the world, growing a following, making lots of money and best of all, she was communicating with Eric. They were happy times.

She was teaching her son in the ways of the underworld, evangelizing her family and friends and feeling on top of the world. She not only rejected the notion of God with impunity, but even saw God as silly and His followers as pitiful. She  was enlightened—just like how she knew Eric would return to this world. She knew in her heart they would meet again.

She decided to kick it up a notch. She began to try to contact Eric by herself. She would light candles and call him down. Her son’s piggie bank that would animate when a coin was dropped in but was otherwise dormant, suddenly began to light up and make noise. She knew it was Eric. Each time she called on Eric to come down, the piggie bank responded. One time her son even called out, “Daddy’s in the room!” She had never told him she believed that too.

“Eric, I’m here, honey,” she called out. “Remember me in your spirit. We will be together again. I will wait, and I will search for you in this life and in the next.”

The piggie bank lit up.

She had everything she wanted. But then it all started to change. The spiritualist began to show a gruff side and Sonya was put off. She no longer reported Eric’s communications. 

“What do you think is going on?” Sonya wanted to know.

“I think he’s moved on from you,” was the spiritualist curt reply.

Then Sonya started to get the sense that everything was turning dark, as if she couldn’t open her eyes wide enough to let in light. The lights were turned on, the sun was shining brightly. Why had life dimmed? There was also a strange unsettling in her heart and mind that never seemed to subside—as if an inner vibrate setting had been turned on and she didn’t know how to turn it off. 

What was going on?

Just a few years earlier, she was a young girl looking forward to life with her one true love. Now she was calling on the dead, and herself, a major thoroughfare for dark spirits. But it was about to get darker. 

One morning she awoke choking. When she opened her eyes, a large translucent figure was over her holding his mouth over hers and trying to suck the life from her. When the spiritualist’s ministers drove up to the house to visit her, all her pots and pans exploded from the cupboards and shot through the kitchen.  At night, whispering voices would nudge her from her sleep. “She’s awake now,” they would say.

At night, whispering voices would nudge her from her sleep. “She’s awake now,” they would say.

If her heart had felt unsettled before, it was now in chaos. She did not like what was going on and now all communication with Eric—hers or the spiritualists had stopped. The spiritualist no longer made herself available and it started to feel like it was all coming to an end.

A visit to the doctor revealed a lump in her breast and after many visits to specialists, no one could say exactly what it was. There were biopsies and sonograms and mammograms and every test was inconclusive. It began to eat away at her psyche.  Each day she began to become increasingly gripped with fear to the point of near debilitation. She started to feel another lump in her other breast. Was it real or imagined? She considered having both breasts removed to get them off of her body and the whole ordeal off of her mind. “Why can’t anyone tell me what’s going on?”

Suddenly she realized the condition of her life. She was alone. There was no buffer between her troubles and her. Eric was gone. The spiritualist was gone and her ministers could offer her no real hope. There was no God.  Sonya was grinding away—living a life of stone on stone.

At her wit’s end, she made one last appointment with a doctor to see if he could give her any hope that she wasn’t going to die. Sonya was a bundle of nerves and desperation sitting on the doctor’s table in a hospital gown. When the test was completed, she was left in the room one more time, alone.

She fell to the floor and started to sob. When she began to call out, it was a name. When through her shock, she realized she was calling on the name of Jesus—the same Jesus that she asked to protect her when she was a little girl, the arms of God caressed her. She was being held. Not attacked. Not spiritually manipulated. The arms of God created a feeling like nothing she had ever known. At once she felt deeply loved and profoundly accepted and secure. She thought to herself, I could stay here forever.

It was a mix of gratitude, joy, praise…and absolute shock that when she was at her most vulnerable, her most desperate, it was the God of the Bible she reached back for, and He was there.

For the last eight years, she had rejected God out of hand. She had sought to expunge such silliness from everyone she knew. Now in her weakest moment, it was Him who came crashing into that room to save and let her know He had never left. 

Could it be that as a little girl, when she asked God for His protection, He loved her so much that He responded with a covering for life?

When the nurse came in, she brought with her some encouraging news. But Sonya didn’t really need it. She had gotten off the floor absolutely resolute that she was going to be fine. And she was right. Any and all lumps simply subsided with time.  

She walked outside into the bright sun that seemed brighter than it had for some time. The warmth felt so good. She looked to the sky as she normally did when she thought about Eric, and then looked back down again. She didn’t say good-bye to him. She didn’t have to. But there was a parting, a letting go.

She realized it wasn’t Eric’s voice she was hearing, it was satan’s. It wasn’t a lover spanning the realms to reach her, it was the enemy trying to manipulate her. It wasn’t hope. It was death.

Soon after, she attended the Rock Church and when it was time to go forward at Pastor Miles’ invitation, she stood with a consciousness of how odd it is that the woman who had led people into past life regression was now going forward into a new life of her own.

She presented to God a life with much to forgive. But she walked out of church that Sunday as clean and brilliant as unfiltered light, covered in the blood of Christ—no longer a friend to the dark, but a threat. She doesn’t live a life of fear, but of triumph. The demons never approach her. They wouldn’t dare.

Sonya still thinks of Eric with fondness and misses what could have been. But she belongs to someone else now. And this relationship was going to last forever.



POSTSCRIPT: Sonya immediately got involved in one-on-one discipleship and small group Bible studies. She now calls the Rock her home church and has since held small groups, helped start the Redeemed Teen Parent ministry and served as a table leader for M.A.C.S. She is about to begin pastoral care and attend seminary school for a Masters of Applied Ministry and work as a Youth Director in a local church.

Her son and her are very close. He has grown to be a wonderful Christian young man, going on mission trips to Mexico and volunteers for the hospitality ministry.