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After 76 years in this mortal coil, my mother died in the Autumn of 2004. A life of cigarettes, unlucky breaks, and some unpleasant encounters and accidents had taken their toll on her. The day before her death, I held her hand, thin and bony like a small bird, her 90-pound frame struggling for each breath.

A month, maybe six weeks after she died, I slept peacefully in my room. I opened my eyes,; the bedroom was filled with a light that was bright, cool, and exceedingly beautiful. I looked straight into it without discomfort as it filled every corner of my room. In the glow stood my mother—beautiful, wreathed in the white radiance like a saint from a medieval canvas.

Her shoulders no longer stooped with age, her back straight, her hair was a long and luxurious mane of deep brown to the middle of her back. My mother smiled with deep sweetness and called to me, "Kell..." Her west Texas accent always made it sound like the name of the plant.

Mother never much believed in hell—she just couldn't stomach the idea that her beloved saviour, the author of the Sermon on the Mount, could allow people to suffer eternal torment for calling Him by the wrong name. This was at odds with others in my family, who feel that their way is the only deliverance from eternal perdition.

"We were right, Kell," she grinned at me through the light, "It's more wonderful than words can ever say."

I laughed through a waterfall of tears, I remember saying, "Mom, I miss you so much."

"Now that's silly." She scolded gently. This was what she always said when someone said something utterly bone-headed. "You know good 'n' well that I'm right here with you all the time."

For some reason, rather than ask after my father, I chose to inquire about a couple of recently-departed pets. "Mother, are the ferrets with you?"

She laughed. God, I can still hear her musical laugh in my head! It was so genuinely happy, so mirthful—it was a laugh I seldom heard from her during her earth walk. "'Course they are!" Then the shade of this woman, who never held an animal in her life, produced Davey, our first ferret, from her aura of white. The little creature scampered up to perch on her bare shoulder, greeting me in the gesture-language of his kind.

Maybe it should have been scary to see someone who had died—at very least, the sight of my mother clothed only in angelic white radiance probably should have been embarrassing. But for some reason this was all as natural as breathing.

I awoke with a profound sense of peace—any fear or sadness washed away by the dream. My pillow was soaking wet from tears.

Was it the wishful thinking of a son who missed his departed mommy? Whose subconscious apparently likes to paint with rather stereotyped imagery? Was it some kind of supernatural visitation? I've never been one to put much stock in ghosts and that sort of thing, really. But here is one weird thing: I awoke to the smell of my Mother's perfume. She always wore Chanel No 5, it was the only perfume she would wear, and I still associate its fragrance with her. All that day, my room smelled of Chanel number 5.

This really happened

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