I met him on the stairs.
To heaven. I don’t care to recall how I died. I don’t even remember it. Why should one bother to remember their memories of earth when they are on the stairway to heaven?
I was always looking up, up, into a light that I could see with both eyes, wide open, irises dilated. I saw him smile at me with clarity. The purest smile. His golden eyes glistened as I approached. He reached out a hand and I grasped it. It did not feel like a hand. It was like…warm as the sun, and smooth as the surface of the sea.
“Who are you?” I asked as I gazed into his face, as beautiful as the fresh cherry blossoms that bloomed in the spring.
“You don’t know me, but I know you,” he said. “Very well.” His voice sang in my ears like the chimes in the backyard when the wind ruffled through. He kept my hand as I took the next step. Together we turned and climbed up, up.
“Do you know where you are?” he asked me. I took another step.
“Am I in heaven?”
“Not yet. Very soon.”
His feet made no sound as he stepped beside me. My feet, on the other hand, hit the stairway of glittering silver marble with a bejeweled tone that bounced like a hammer on a bell.
“My name is Ramiel,” he said. “I’ve guarded you all your life.”
My feet played a song as I just looked back at him. Neither of us had to watch where we stepped. It was always up, up.
“Do you remember when you fell out the window when you were two?” he asked me.
“I landed in rocks and opened a gash in my head.”
“Those rocks saved your life. Otherwise, you would’ve broken your neck.” Step, step. “I put them there.”
One of my steps resounded like a trembling symbol. It echoed out and up, up.
“Do you remember when you got lost in the woods behind your house?”
“My flashlight died. I was cold.”
“Your brother found you before dawn.” Step, step. “I led him there.”
He never let go of my hand. Always, he pulled me up, up.
“Do you remember when your best friend fell in love with you?”
“It broke my heart. Our friendship was over.”
“But you told him no. He understood. It was saved.” Step, step. “I gave you the right words.”
I started to remember some other things now.
“But why were you quiet when I fell in love? Why were you quiet when another rejected me?” I asked.
“That man is in jail now,” he replied.
Another step carried like the purest whistle from the most radiant bird.
“Why did you do nothing when I crashed my car?” I asked.
“If you reached the intersection,” he said, “you would have flipped.” Step, step.
I lost my step. My foot slipped backwards and my knees hit the marble with a bellow like a deep violin plucking a single string. Ramiel squeezed my hand. My other hand rested against the marble, cold as the coldest ice. My head lilted and I closed my eyes.
“Don’t let me go,” I whispered. “Please, don’t let me go.”
Then up, up, I went. My body rose from the steps as slowly as a spirit severing from a body. Ramiel knelt before me and enclosed my hand within both of his. He gazed back at me, and I saw my reflection in his eyes. I did not look the same. My face shone like the reflection of the sun on the lake of my summer camping trips.
“I never did let you go,” Ramiel said. “But I let you take some steps.”
And step, step went my feet. A chorus of rings and chimes followed. Up, up went my feet. Up, up the stairs. To heaven.