It follows me. It knows me. It reminds me.

I want to dance, I want to sing
I want to bust up everything
And have some fun
I want to dance, I want to sing
I want to bust up everything
And make some love

--The Rolling Stones, Too Much Blood

Not too many years ago there was a period of my life where I relied on mysticism to survive. I followed all the signs and listened to all the voices. I came to Florida to solve a riddle from a dream. It was a dream inspired and created as a result of my own death. I found a girl named Tina who had appeared to me in those dreams telling me I was meant to find her. If I found her she would give me the answer I needed. I have the answer but still lack the question. She was a beacon. She sent me in a new direction. According to the prophesy of the dream Tina was the first of three queens. She was meant to guide me. She would lead me to the second queen, who would provide me with a valuable lesson. She did. The second queen was named Christina. They actually had the same name, but Christina went by her full name while Tina preferred the shortened version.

In the darkest hole
You'd be well advised
Not to plan my funeral before the body dies

--Alice in Chains, Grind

While Tina always remained distant, becoming what I had been told she was, the unreachable beacon, Christina reached out to me. She was working as a waitress in the restaurant I called my church. It was a place I was guided to after my death. It was a place with a plaque that said ground had been broken to begin construction on the same day I died. It was the center of my universe. Christina waited for me. She waited for me to ask, and eventually I did. Soon after we were engaged in a very passionate love affair that lasted for two months. She lived on the edge. She could drink more than I could. She could smoke more than I could. I wondered why she was always going full blast through life without taking time out to catch her breath. Her answer was a simple one. She said she knew deep down inside that she was not going to live very long and that nothing she did could change that. It was part of why I loved her so much. She had the same kind of sense of things that I did, but her senses were more acutely tuned.

Rage in the cage
and piss upon the stage
there's only one sure way
to bring the giant down
defunct the strings
of cemetary things
with one flat foot
on the devil's wing

Rob Zombie, Living Dead Girl

Christina was the first person to call me "the dead guy." Upon hearing the story of my life she began to jokingly call me by that moniker. A certain song was always on the radio in those days, so I began calling her "living dead girl." My story prompted her to tell me about her childhood cancer. She had died on the operating table when she was five years old but barely remembered the experience. All that she knew as a result was that she would not be long for this world. Like me, she knew she was living on borrowed time. Being an only child who had been close to death as a child, she was spoiled by her parents. The material gifts could never answer her needs. There was always a certain sadness around her.

There was a night when we reached the limits of how close we could ride together to the edge. When she was young, Christina was very overweight and she always had very thin blonde hair. Years of chemotherapy as a child can do that to you, they say. When she went into college she lost a lot of weight and laughed at the boys who snickered at her in high school. She liked to get high and I didn't mind it all that much. One night we went after some smoke and entered into the seedier side of town to get it. Some people she worked with had an apartment in a complex where people kept bars on their windows. We just needed to go inside, complete the deal and get out. It didn't turn out that way.

They live without hope.

We were buying grass from a couple who needed to sell it to maintain their feeble, hopeless existence. A white woman and a black man who felt they had to point out to everyone that they were an interracial couple and ask everyone why people hated them for it. They were a lot of fun. He played video games and cursed her out and demanded we stay to smoke a joint with him. He was a little too unstable to question on that demand. So, we did, and as a result I had to commit a personal sin and drive while high. I also had to drive Christina's truck because she was walking on clouds. She was so happy that she disregarded the cop sitting in the parking lot looking for trouble. I had to walk past and seem normal, trying to keep in mind that the cops never bothered white people in a neighborhood like this.

We drove two blocks to my church, the restaurant where Christina worked. I parked the truck and told her we were going no further. I had my final epiphany while resting my head on Christina's lap. The voice came to me and asked if I wanted to "leave this place." I felt my heart stop and looked up at Christina.

"You aren't going to die.
You will outlive me easily."

It was just about the end of our relationship. It broke my heart because I loved her. I would say that I loved her more than she realized, but she was an empath who sensed just about everything. She broke things off because she was concerned it was becoming too serious. We had seriously talked about getting married and having a child, but my life was falling apart and she couldn't handle the pressure. There was too much pressure and sorrow in her own life to bear mine. She left me standing in the rain with nowhere to turn and ripped my heart out and turned away. I was angry, but a year later I would learn another valuable lesson. Never miss an opportunity to make peace with the ones you truly care about.

You know it's been on my mind
could i stand right here
look myself in the eyes, and say
that it's over now

we pay our debt sometime

--Alice in Chains, Over Now

As much as I had reason for hating a woman who had been my girlfriend when the roof caved in on my life for abandoning me at that point, I couldn't hate her. I was upset. I was hurt. I didn't hate. While others came to my side to help me pull myself up from the depths fate had cast me into, she turned away. A year later I ran into her. She looked beautiful. She was out having dinner with her parents. We kept looking at each other and eventually she came over. She hugged me and kissed me and asked me to forgive her. She asked me to understand. We went out later and drank together and forgave each other for everything that had ever happened between us. I told her I was getting married. She said she was happy for me. She said the thing she was most sorry about was that her betrayal had caused her to lose me forever. I told her she would never lose me and that we would always be friends. She kissed me again and wished me well. We haven't talked since.

"You're an angel, Keith.
One day I hope I can be an angel too."

It was amongst the last words she ever spoke to me. On December 30, 2002, Christina died. She was 25. The cancer from her childhood came back a year ago. She fought it but she could not beat it. Right now I miss her so much that it hurts. I wish we had not become so distant. I read her funeral notice tonight. The first line says, "Christina joined the angels on December 30, 2002." Perhaps we do have more impact on people than we realize.

You will live again, Christina. You will fly higher than I ever could. Rest in peace, regain your strength, and fly straight on 'til morning.

I still love you.