Name: Afterlife

Author: Liudmila Maksimovskaya NIKOXXII, DOB 1978

Geography: n/a

Made in (country/ city): United states, Rockford, IL

Date (when it was made): 2014

Medium: plain paper, pencil, black marker, photograph, Photoshop

Dimensions (size): 6508 x 5786 pixels, 10.847 inches x 9.643 inches, resolution 600 pixels/inch

Copyright © : Liudmila Maksimovskaya NIKOXXII

Description: I wrote the description of this work almost right after I finished it and published the text on my spirituality blog. Here’s what I wrote.

"My great-grandfather died when I was about five years old. I didn’t know the man well, but his demise touched me deeply - rose questions, which I had never managed and would never expect to answer. 

Great-grandpa fell ill shortly before he died. The man was active - always on the go, and then, suddenly, he was bedbound. 

I remember seeing great-grandpa in his bed and thinking, “he seems angry.”

I cannot tell if it was, indeed, the anger I sensed, or it was a false assumption. In any case, the five-year-old me decided that the man was angry at life - at the disease, which destroyed who he once was. 

It was late evening when great-grandfather died. My grandma brought me to the neighbor’s house that night. And that’s when it all started.

The neighbor prepared a daybed. It was small but soft and cozy - just the right size for a little kid. The bed was right next to a window. I fell asleep, but a few hours later woke up (at least I thought I did.)

I opened my eyes, looked around, outside - everything seemed fine. Then I sensed as if something or someone was approaching my bed. Seconds later, I saw shadows. They were slowly moving towards me. I convinced myself I was dreaming, closed my eyes and fell asleep. My slumber did not last long. I opened my eyes – the shadows came closer. I shut my eyes, fell asleep, and, the pattern repeated itself. When I opened my eyes, the darkness was right next to me. The terror overwhelmed me, but I couldn’t help to wonder if they needed some assistance. I did not dare to speak, so I closed my eyes again. As I was trying to fall asleep again, I kept thinking, “fear is all in my head. If I pretend I am not afraid – I will not be scared anymore.”  Soon, I fell asleep again.

When I woke up, I felt well-rested and happy. 

On the day of the funeral, my parents decided to take me with them. Initially, I did not think it was going to be a big deal.

Hundreds of people came to say their last goodbyes to my great-grandfather. I was fine at first. Then, suddenly, I panicked. I cried and screamed uncontrollably, while on the inside I was calm and failed to understand what was happening. I couldn’t stop.

My parents removed me out of the procession and brought me to a playground. I sat on a swing. As I was swinging up and down, I analyzed the meltdown and its potential causes.

Sometime later, a sensation of excitement and joy rushed over me. I smiled. I wished I could jump and laugh, but felt other people might consider the behavior inappropriate.

“My great-grandpa is in the ground now.” I thought, “he must be happy. His anger is gone”, I thought. 

Since then I was wondering more and more about death and its true meaning. It was still hard for me to accept the idea of God (the way Christians saw Him – with the Heaven and Hell) but I refused to believe life ended after biological death. I imagined something else was out there – some other existence - no matter how illogical the idea might seem."