Mary Smith sent me an email, recounting some of her own experiences, both of them observed close to a moment of passing. With her permission, I will share them here. I once worked attached to a hospice and heard many similar stories from the nursing staff. I have also been with my own loved ones at the time of their passing. From unmistakable odours, to a scrawled message no-one could have written, I have seen some very strange things myself.
Shortly before my mother died, she kept moving her hand in front of her face, for all the world like she was trying to catch a hair in front of her eyes. When I asked her what she was doing, she said she could see her mother but it was as though there was a curtain between them, which she couldn’t move. She never mentioned seeing her mother again but she was suddenly much more at peace.
he other incident was when a friend was in the cancer ward. I’d spent a lot of time with him over a few days. I was exhausted, both mentally and physically and came home one afternoon. I decided to have a bath and must have drifted off to sleep. I started awake suddenly, panicking, the water swooshing up around me as I leapt out of the bath. For some reason I thought I was late taking my son to school but it was 5pm and definitely not school time. I had just dressed when the phone rang. It was my friend’s ex-wife to tell me he’d passed away at five o’clock.
I offered to drive her to the hospital as she was in no fit state to drive herself. Although divorced for some years, they had always remained close.
Several other people, including my friend’s mother, some of his carers and a woman he was rather in love with, were already there and we each took turns to go and say goodbye privately. After I’d been in I returned to the visitors’ sitting room, which was simply furnished with easy chairs around a large, low coffee table on which sat a heavy alabaster vase of artificial flowers. My friend’s ex-wife went to say goodbye and I took her seat.
Moments later, I saw the heavy vase make a complete rotation on the table. I assumed my eyes were playing tricks because of how tired I was but the woman opposite me, looked over and said, “You saw it, too, didn’t you?”
We wondered if it might be a draft from the air conditioner or the door opening but the vase was too heavy to be moved. We explained to the others what we’d seen but no one else had noticed.
The next day my friend’s ex-wife asked me about it and I told her what I’d seen. She was quiet for a moment then said, “I wonder if that was him leaving? While I was saying goodbye to him. I was the last to go in.” She suddenly smiled and added, “He always said I talked too much. Cheeky sod!”
About the author
Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She wanted others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.
Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.
Mary loves interacting with her readers and her website is www.marysmith.co.uk.
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Books by Mary Smith
For these, and all Mary’s books, please click the links or visit her Amazon author page.
Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves her work at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan and the warmth and humour of her women friends in the village, but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married and she fears he regrets taking on a widow with a young son, who seems determined to remain distant from his stepfather.
When Miriam acts as translator at a medical teaching camp she hopes time apart might help her understand the cause of their problems. Instead, she must focus on helping women desperate for medical care and has little time to think about her failing marriage. When an old friend appears, urging her to visit the village where she and her first husband had been so happy. Miriam finds herself travelling on a journey into her past, searching for answers to why her marriage is going so horribly wrong.
Her husband, too, has a past of his own – from being shunned as a child to the loss of his first love.
This book offers a remarkable insight into the lives of Afghan women both before and after Taliban’s rise to power. The reader is caught up in the day-to-day lives of women like Sharifa, Latifa and Marzia, sharing their problems, dramas, the tears and the laughter: whether enjoying a good gossip over tea and fresh nan, dealing with a husband’s desertion, battling to save the life of a one-year-old opium addict or learning how to deliver babies safely.
Mary Smith spent several years in Afghanistan working on a health project for women and children in both remote rural areas and in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Given the opportunity to participate more fully than most other foreigners in the lives of the women, many of whom became close friends, she has been able to present this unique portrayal of Afghan women – a portrayal very different from the one most often presented by the media.
If you have had a strange experience or encounter that you would like to share, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org (or my usual email if you already have it) and we can discuss a guest post.
I am not looking for sensationalism or fictional tales… but in light of the response to some recent posts, I think it would be both useful and reassuring to others to realise that none of us are alone in these strange encounters and experiences and perhaps we can open discussion on what they may be or may mean.
If you would like to share your story but prefer to remain anonymous, we can discuss that too. If you would like to share your beliefs and opinions on the nature of these experiences, I would be happy to talk about a guest post. Through sharing with respect we may learn to understand our world and each other a little better.