Dear Diary:

(3 years earlier)

I feel like a little girl again, writing those words, but it feels good!

We’ve never met before, but my name is Amara. I guess I’ll have to think of a name for you. I’m sorry I didn’t have time to come up with one on the car ride home. Writing in the car makes my stomach wobbly. For now, I’ll just call you Diary, but only until I come up with something perfect. Promise.

My dad used to say, “A sturdy journal is the best friend you could ever hope for.”

I didn’t believe him (though it didn’t stop him from repeating himself).

I was fourteen when he bought me my very first diary. She was about your size, but a different color on the front. Her cover was red, and she had matching red trim around the borders of every page. When you flipped the pages fast enough, the edges turned pink! I thought it was just about the coolest thing I’d ever seen. But I guess it’s not hard to impress a fourteen-year-old. I used to love the way that book smelled. Every time I took it out of my armoire, I would hold it up to my nose, fan the pages back and forth, and breathe deep. It always made me smile. Even when I had a bad day; even when I just wanted to curl up on my bed and cry salty tears on its pages, that smell always brought me a moment of happiness.

I wonder whatever happened to that old diary.

But anyway, enough about the old. Today is a day for new.

Diary, I have big news. I had a breakthrough yesterday. I’m a little nervous to talk about it, since I haven’t started the work yet and it doesn’t even seem real yet, but it’s happening. I only started working at Praxem three months ago, and I’ve already had an epiphany that could change everything. Mason couldn’t be happier for me.

Oh, I just realized, you don’t even know who Mason is yet, how rude of me!

Mason is my husband. We’ve been married three years. We lived in Ohio since we met, which was a little over six years ago. We had a small apartment there, but our house here in California is bigger. Praxem has been good to us. I guess they wanted me bad enough, they agreed to all my stipulations. My dad used to tell me I’d make a great attorney.

But you want to know a secret?

You can’t tell anyone. Not even Mason.

When I was a little girl, I didn’t want to be a lawyer or a mathematician or a doctor. What I really loved was flowers, and nature, and poetry. Oh, I loved writing poems in the field near my childhood home. We lived on a hillside surrounded by meadows and a big creek. The fields that turned purple in the Spring from all the prairie clover.

I used to sit barefooted in the field at the highest point on the hill and draw sketches of the flowers. I would talk to them and sing to them and read poems…

I just realized… that makes me sound crazy! Don’t get the wrong idea, Diary. The flowers didn’t talk back. I just never felt happier than when I was surrounded by all that purple life. The color, the smell, everything about it was just incredible. That place held unparalleled beauty.

When I got older, and my mom got sick, we moved out of that house and into the city. Dad wanted to be closer to the doctors and nurses who were taking care of her. That was a hard time. I stopped writing poems and singing songs; I started studying biology and mathematics to help my father try to learn what was making mom so sick.

Come to think of it, I guess I never went back to see my flowers after… well, after everything that happened. I haven’t thought about this stuff in years.

Diary, I can already tell we are going to be good, close friends.

But back to my news. Yesterday, I had a moment of realization that could change my life forever. We’ve been looking for answers in all the wrong places. I guess I should tell you about my job. God, it’s all so exciting. I can’t even keep my head straight!

Okay, so my job is Lead Researcher of Cessation Studies, Biology Department at Praxem Industries. Praxem maintains many global research initiatives, but here at the Leiden Facility in California, our studies focus on dying; more specifically, the moments leading up to death, and the moments just after.

It sounds very dark and gloomy, I know. But I promise it’s all very fascinating!

Dr. Soliman says my breakthrough yesterday could be the key to unlocking the secrets of human death and the afterlife! Can you believe that? And to think, it all happened because Mason and I took a drive up the coast, to the beach.

I remember seeing the flowers along the roadside swaying in the breeze. It was so windy out, we couldn’t walk very long, but something about the way the flowers moved made me realize, we’ve been measuring the wrong variables. Up until now, we’ve only looked at synaptic cessation, trying to draw correlations with temperature (heat) transfer, but now I know we’ve been looking at it all wrong. I just know it! I won’t go into the technical stuff, but I’ll give you a hint (this is top secret!): my breakthrough has to do with sound, not heat. Isn’t that crazy? Sound!

I’m sure none of this makes sense at all. But don’t worry Diary. I’m going to tell you all about it in the days and weeks to come. That’s why I went out and bought a new journal. I wanted to document this time very carefully, for posterity. If this really does lead to a significant discovery, it could change the way we think about human life altogether!

Isn’t that exciting?

Well, that’s all the time I have for today. I’ll write some more tomorrow evening before bed when I know more about the parameters of this new study. Maybe I’ll even come up with a name for you in the meantime.

Til then, with love.

 

Amara