"Turn here? What do you mean, turn here? That’s a dead end. I don’t know why I let you talk me into this."
"Please, Greg, just a little longer. I know we’re almost there."
Greg turned the car into the short dirt lane and stopped as the ruts ended at a barbed wire fence. Sandy was immediately out of the car and through the fence and halfway across the meadow by the time Greg grudgingly followed.
"I can’t believe that you are doing this. I can’t believe that I’ve driven a hundred miles on this wild goose chase because of some stupid parlor game. Most of all, I can’t believe that you really think you remembered a past life."
"It isn’t a wild goose chase, and you’ll just have to experience regression for yourself to understand."
"I understand that I’m going back to the car and wait until you have come to your senses."
"Wait. Look. There is the creek just like I remembered. Come on. It’s only about a quarter of a mile now."
Greg shook his head and followed Sandy into the thick growth of pecan and oak along the creek bottom.
"There, I told you. See. I did remember."
Greg felt a prickly thrill along his spine. The scene was just as Sandy had described it. The high creek banks had been worn into a deep cut which was obviously a crossing, and the deep ruts were still visible trailing off into brush on one side and a meadow on the other.
The young man absent-mindedly scuffed at a half-buried object and reached to pick it up as it broke free from the soft dirt. The wheel hub from a wagon??"or perhaps an old stagecoach. His hand shook.
"Sandy, please start from the beginning and tell me what you remembered."
"Well, I was 13 when I held up the stagecoach here at this crossing. We were desperately poor. A grass fire had burned our crops, and we were facing a winter with little food and no money. Ma and Pa had gone to town to see if they could find work. My I4-year-old brother had gone hunting, so I was home alone.
"I dressed in some of Johnny’s overalls, tucked my hair up under an old hat, and loaded Pa’s pistol. I thought that if I tied a rag across my face I’d look like a man. I knew about when to expect the stagecoach. I had hidden in the underbrush and spied on it several times, wishing I could go traveling to some far-off place. I knew also that the stagecoach would have to slow almost to a stop to make this crossing.
"The coach was late that day. I had almost given up when I heard it coming. I pulled the rag over my face and stepped out here with the pistol when the stagecoach was down there in the creek bed. I yelled for the driver to stop. Then I saw the man on horseback. He had been on the far side of the coach. He came riding toward me laughing and saying he wasn’t going to be held up by any kid.
"The next thing I knew the pistol in my hand fired, and the man fell off his horse. I thought I’d killed him. I panicked, jumped on the horse and galloped off toward home. A mile or so away, I sent the horse in one direction and I ran in the other. The only thing I took was a leather bag that hung from the saddle horn.
"When I got home, I changed into my dress and hid Johnny’s overalls and Pa’s pistol. I looked in the leather bag. There were two silver dollars and a bundle of greenbacks. I was certain that there would be a posse on my trail any minute, and they’d hang me for murder. I couldn’t think of any way to explain the money, so I dug a hole under the rain barrel at the comer of the house and buried it."
"Did you ever dig it up?"
"No, but I’m going to??"today.
Greg followed Sandy back to the car and drove where she directed as she continued recounting her past life memory.
"My parents came home full of news about the holdup, and I was relieved to find out that I’d only shot the man in the shoulder. He was quite angry, however, and had offered a reward for the return of his horse and saddlebag, and a chance to `bust the kid that done it.’
"I didn’t realize how much it bothered Johnny until he died from pneumonia three years later. His last words were: `I didn’t do it. I didn’t rob the stage.’
"I felt so ashamed and so guilty that I could never bring myself to tell anyone what I had done. Every time I walked outside, that rain barrel and the guilty secret under it just seemed to be sitting there ready to shout my guilt to the whole world.
"This has helped me to understand why, in this lifetime, I’ve always been fanatical about not even taking a paper clip that doesn’t belong to me. But I’ve always felt guilty, like someone was about to accuse me of stealing. In the stores I always feel like everyone is looking at me and thinking that I’m shoplifting. I always feel guilty if anything is missing when I’m around. I guess I just never got over feeling guilty for what I did in that lifetime. But now that I understand, I can be free of those feelings."
By this time, Sandy and Greg had driven several miles down a farm road into the area where Sandy felt certain she could find the place she and her family had lived. Greg stopped the car, and they walked across a meadow, down a hill, and into a small valley bisected by a dry creek bed.
"There. It should be there." Sandy pointed into the middle of a plum thicket. "Yes. There isn’t much left. Just a few stones from the fireplace and chimney. Over there, see that depression? That’s where the outhouse was."
Sandy looked at the remains of the fireplace and visualized the outlines of the house in her mind’s eye. "Here, just about here. This is where the rain barrel sat." Sandy started digging with the small folding shovel she had brought along. The ground was hard and laced with roots, but she persisted until she had a hole about 18 inches deep.
The dirt became very discolored, and the mass of fibrous material was barely recognizable as a rotted leather bag with a rusted buckle. There was a mass that might have been a bundle of greenbacks. A little deeper in the hole were two tarnished pieces of metal half fused together??"two silver dollars.
"Now look here, Sandy," Greg said sternly, "can you swear that the only knowledge you had about this came from that past life regression?"
"Absolutely, Greg. Absolutely."
Greg wandered away while Sandy sat and thought about the new perspective the regression and the experiences of the day had given her on her life. How difficult it was to believe that something as impermanent as this mass of rotted leather had caused her to waste one lifetime, and live with guilt and limitations in this one. She mentally severed the remaining emotional ties as she dropped the mass back into the hole and covered it.
"Sandy, how old was Johnny when he died?" Greg called from a nearby rise surrounded by a grove of trees. "And what was your name?"
"He was 17. My name was Sarah, Sarah Peters. Why?"
"You have to look at this."
Sandy suddenly remembered what was located on that rise. Her heart beat a little faster as she stepped into the tiny family cemetery and saw the weathered stones with the barely discernible names of her mother and father and her 17-year-old brother, and another: "Sarah??"spinster daughter of Daniel and Jessie Peters."
"That’s awesome, Sandy, really awesome. You say that past life regression is fairly easy?"
A Sense of Immortality
Sandy and Greg had the unusual adventure of being able to follow through on information from Sandy’s past life regression and find physical evidence to support her memories. Often this is not possible, but when it does happen, the emotions are indescribable. There is almost nothing that can give one the sense of being immortal and eternal as can the experience of standing at a grave and remembering the life you lived in the body which is buried there.
It is at such moments that you understand that eternal life is not something you work toward in some far-off future time. You are already immortal. And, it is at such moments that you truly understand what an unimportant, impermanent thing death is. Death is like summer vacation between school terms.