After yet another long day, I found myself hidden in a restricted location, working as a film medic. I spent many hours watching grown men build a YT-1300 Corellian light freighter galactic fighter ship, (which was the original Star Wars Millennium Falcon). Leaving work for the day, driving along the London Orbital, I began to think about how my dad would have been proud to see me working on all three Star Wars films. Back in the seventies, my Dad took me to the cinema to watch the original films. Steadily driving at sixty miles per hour along the motorway, I had the oddest sensation, of a presence I had not felt since 1988. “What have I done?” It was strange, I was sure I could hear my dad’s voice. “Yes, I am your father, yes, it is me, and you are driving Vauxhalls, this Astra is a good model. Remember that blue Cavalier, when you were small?”
Dad and me when I was 24 months
"What is this, are you dead? Have I crashed the car?” I said aloud, trying not to swerve, even though I was the only one wearing a seatbelt, as I still had a body that could die. Thinking back, I recalled that Arthur did not believe in any of this spiritual mumbo jumbo when Rita harped on about it daily. “I am dead, yes. If I only knew the power of the light side back then, I feel more alive right this second than ever before.” My goodness, after thirty years of silence, I am talking to my dead father while driving, tired and at speed. Was he trying to kill me?
Arthur spoke into my mind with a gentle calm Norfolk accent. “I needed to see you, see how life had treated you, as we both treated you appallingly. I am so ashamed. There is much to talk to you about, Clairey, and mainly…” He stopped to gather his thoughts. “Mainly Clairey, I wish to apologise. So, on these grounds alone, your Gatekeeper agreed I could get my visitation pass, but we do not have long.” Slowing down to forty miles per hour, trying to concentrate on the road, “I cannot speak right now.” I said aloud, which I really could not. Shock paralysed my mouth tight shut, as I dealt with unexpected emotions and irate European juggernaut drivers, who think they own the slow inner lanes on the motorway. Compounding this surreal situation, the sun was setting in the West, which was directly in front of my vision, near blinding both eyes. “Just think what you want to say, Clairey, I can hear you. I have tagged along while you have been working on Star Wars. Never, in my wildest imagination, had I expected that of you. Life is weird, but I have to admit death is weirder.” He gasped with a big, regretful sigh.
Invitations to the cast and crew screen showings of all the Star Wars films I worked on.
"It was a little time after passing. I never believed there was anything after death, but there is a whole new reality going on here. I found myself in a rather strange, after-world. Who knew there was anything beyond that miserable life I just left? To be honest, I wish I died years ago now.” Since I can remember, I wished this for him too. “I was with you last week when you were filming at that airstrip, you know, where they made a tropical beach scene out of a concrete runway. Just incredible, to see my firstborn irrigating sand from a Storm Trooper’s eyes!” “I remember that day; you did cross my mind, you could say that I felt your presence, whooooaahhh!” I hollered, as I was always the clown, but now I was fast becoming the ringmaster. “You still have good humour, after all that pain we made you suffer. I have missed you.” I did not know what or how I felt at that moment. “You know, we can tap into everything that has ever happened. I just had to think of you, and everything came into my vision. I said a date, and there you were on that date, doing stuff, amazing stuff, travelling the world, and Kylie, my oh my, you had a career in the music business after all. God damn it, Clairey, your living dad was an idiot.”
A sneaky illegal photo I took of the Millennium Falcon on the secret hidden away Star Wars set.
“Dad, please tell me everything about dying.” This was better than Talk Radio. “Let me think. I believed, all my life, that there was no afterlife, even with your mother costing me a small fortune, doing all that kooky stuff every week at the Spiritualist Church, which kept her occupied and happy. No, we did not agree on this. I am ashamed to admit that I have done a few people over in my lifetime, I have not made the best choices either, and I was a bit of a business rogue. So, I thought to myself, if an afterlife exists, it may all catch up with me there. Physically, I had not been well for a while. As I lay in bed, I felt a crushing sensation in my chest, followed by a loud snapping above my head. Then, it all went silent, no heart beating, no Venus returning, no breathing. It felt odd not to breathe. There were no worries of any kind, worry had left my body. I really was a dead man surrounded by my own fear. Oh, and no Saint Peter or golden pearly gates either. My spirit or soul whatever it is called, felt stuck inside that redundant dead body for a good while.”
Chewbacca and my good self at one of our Mearfest North 2019. My bond is strong to the 501 Legion.
"They instructed me to rest a little while and think about the life I had just lived, no judge, no jury. Now, here I am with you, kind of back on Earth with no body, gosh satire right there! But I had to find you, you were my firstborn and first thought. I need your forgiveness in order to move forward.” His words sunk into the pits of my stomach, a place where a lot of primal screaming had once evolved."
“I am sorry I did not give you a chance; I did not support you or protect you from the world. Maybe, I was also protecting you from the both of us too. A lot needs to be discussed, there is so much you do not know. But what I can say to you is this, you have always been a good kid at heart, it was all our fault."
This is a true story, some ask if it was my mind was playing tricks with me? But, as you will read I phoned death registry to check when he passed away, it was just two weeks before this car journey.
In death my dad was so troubled by how he had treated me in life, it was his first mission to come back to find me and say sorry, some thirty five years later. I just wish he did it when I was stationary. In my heart I believe this event to be the truth, he has visited me many time since, we talk a lot and I feel at peace with him.
There is only a physical death of the body, we go on, continuing our journey just in a different realm.
TAKEN FROM CHAPTER 18 OF ROCKER BYE BABY COPYRIGHT CLAIRE MEAR2020
THANK YOU SO MUCH PAUL .
BRENDA AND MYSELF AGED 5
When Brenda turned eighty, she became sick with breast cancer, I was devastated. She was the first person I was close to who had cancer; she was not someone I had picked up in the ambulance. This was too real for me. Brenda was never a bedridden-type of a sick person, even though she often complained of aches and pains. After a year battling with chemo, it spread into secondary lung cancer. Throughout, she was incredibly independent, insisting she make her own way to her many oncology appointments, using her free bus pass. Her oncology team had arranged for much needed rest periods at Hospice. One Saturday afternoon, when Brian and I were working on the ambulance; my intuitive gut said all was not well. The tumours were spreading; she had been taken into Hospice that morning by ambulance. When 129 I phoned her, she sounded dreadful, there was a distinct crackling breathlessness to her voice as she gasped for air. Brenda adored Michael, my King’s Cross comrade, but now she also loved Brian. She struggled to say that she wished to share a moment with him on the phone. “Brian love, please, will you look after my Claire, she is a lovely girl, and I adore her like she is my own, promise me now?” He said he would to the end of time, it was as if she was handing over the baton. For the following ten days, we kept vigil at the Hospice. Dabbing her cracked lips with a lollipop sponge soaked in mineral water, I avidly recited all the weird and wonderful stories of my journey in life since I was a kid, which is the time when she fondly remembered me the most.
BRENDA AND MYSELF AGED 20
When I was small and vulnerable, Brenda did indeed feed me my bottle and read stories. Now it was my turn, giving her a baby tumbler and reciting our life stories. I looked down at her on the bed, realising how tiny and frail she had become with cancer and age. I felt the same sense of pride toward her as she spoke about me. The ever-evolving cycle of life and death presented itself to me that day. “I will have words when I get to Heaven, especially when your parents get there. I will be waiting for them, mark my words!” I knew she would, especially my dad. I think she had a lifelong crush on him too. “Brian is a good man; you must allow him to love you. You must open that protected heart of yours and feel happy. I know it is not long till I leave this world, I am not scared you know. We have both always understood what is coming next, I will just be returning home. You have been a great daughter to me, at least your mother gave me this.” This was the last lucid conversation we ever had; she was starting to let go. Her powerful words atoned for many years of abandonment from my family. “Brenda, say hello to everyone Heaven side for me.” I knew she would. “You bet I will."
BRENDA AND MYSELF AGED 23
Momentarily my forehead rested wearily on the hospital bed; when I felt the new kind of energy coming from Brenda’s limp hand. Taking a moment: wondering where her spirit was right then; was she preparing herself, was she in there sleeping, could she not move her body, but could hear me like I heard the ambulance men many years before? What was she feeling, if anything at all? Suddenly, she raised herself up from her stack of pillows, both her arms reaching out rigidly in front, both eyes opened fully for the first time in days. “Are you all right? What’s going on?” I asked as I stood up beside her, wondering if I should press the alarm. A voice, which was not hers of late, came booming out of her mouth. “Yes, I am coming; I am coming, wait, wait for me. I am ready, take me home.” With that, Brenda closed her eyes and laid herself back into her upright position. Her breathing returned to being intensely laboured as her lungs slowly filled with fluids. Brian, Izzy, and her boyfriend Shaun returned from the tearoom. They said I looked as if I had seen a ghost, maybe I just had?
BRENDA AND MYSELF AGED 33
A few days later, Izzy and I spent an evening at the funeral home, decorating Brenda’s Eco-cardboard coffin. This was a new, cheaper option in the world of funerals. The idea of decorating the cardboard box came from the Bali boy’s, whose cremation I attended while travelling. We stuck everything Brenda on to the outside of the box, such as postcards of her beloved Cornwall, and pictures of owls that we had had no idea she loved so much. We both rewrote poems and verses sent in by loved ones, in coloured felt pen. Her friends had sent all-things-Brenda they wanted to add inside her coffin. There was nothing received from my parents at all. Still, we stuck all of it outside the box. It was cathartic, almost a childlike meditation, to be sitting in a quiet funeral home, as we coloured in, cut out, and pasted on while mindfully reminiscing about her life. Brenda had graciously allowed me to walk her through her death experience, from her first diagnosis to her beautiful passing, and now onward to her cremation. This was such an enormous experience which no classroom could ever have taught. We should spend more time with our dying and dead, to say goodbye. As an adult, I had not only learnt how to save a life, I had now learnt how to honour death.
ROCKER BYE BABY - TAKEN FROM SECTIONS OF CHAPTER 13 - COPYRIGHT CLAIRE MEAR 2020
BRENDA LAID TO REST THE ONLY WAY I KNEW HOW.
About the Author
Claire Mear is a