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John Corey Whaley

But I had to talk to someone. Maybe it would have to be Lawrence Ramsey. He’d be the one person on earth who could relate to what I was feeling. We were two people unstuck in time, and as much as I wanted to forget what happened to me, I knew I’d need some help. It’s pretty sad when you feel like a complete stranger is the only person you can turn to.

Sure, I was trying to be hopeful and not waste this opportunity like the nurse said or didn’t say that night at the hospital. But wasn’t I always going to be Travis, who died to these people? No matter what I did, wouldn’t they always remember the way they had to let me go? I guess it turns out you don’t have to be all that dead to be a dead guy.



Before we had left Denver, Dr. Saranson had given me his card and told me to call him any time I needed anything. He had said this while firmly shaking my hand and looking me right in the eyes.

“Travis,” he said, picking up the phone. “I’m so glad you called.”


“How are things going? You adjusting okay? Everything back to normal for you yet?”

Was he kidding me with this? Did he really think anything would ever be even close to normal for me?

“Things are okay, I guess.”

“That bad, huh?” he asked, his tone changing from a higher-pitched fake professional to a “Let’s cut the shit” serious.

“It’s just weird, you know. Everything’s pretty different.”

“And everyone’s different too, right?”


“Did you ever hear from your friends?” he asked.

“Not a word. It’s really hard to understand.”

“I know it is, Travis. But if you can, try putting yourself in their shoes. They lost someone very close to them, and it took a long time to move past it, I’m sure. For you, it’s been a few weeks, but for them, it’s been a lifetime since seeing you, since hearing your voice.”

“I guess I thought they’d be excited I was back,” I said.

“You know they are, Travis. They have to be. They’re just scared, I bet. We have this way of putting certain ideas out of our minds . . . we do that. Humans, I mean. We have to bury things, hopes and dreams, so deep sometimes that it takes a little while to access those things once we need them again.”

“So you think they just need more time to understand that I’m really back?”

“It’s not that, no,” he said. “I think they just need more time to understand why you’re back and what that means to their lives. Maybe you think that’s selfish, but I’d bet you anything they’ve been talking to each other just about every day since you’ve been back and trying to figure out how to deal with this thing. You woke up from a nap and everyone was older and different, but they’ve stayed up a lot of nights thinking about you, Travis. They’ve grieved you for years and now they’re being asked to un-grieve you, and, sadly, that just isn’t something that very many people understand because, well, it’s never been a possibility before now.”

“Did Lawrence go through this too?” I asked, feeling like this wasn’t the first time Dr. Saranson had had this conversation.

“He did. Yeah. But I’ll let him tell you about that. I think it would be really good for you. For both of you. What do you say?”

“I think I’m ready.”

“Great. I’m going to give him your number, and I bet he’ll be calling you very soon.”

“Thanks,” I said.



“It’s all going to work out. I promise.”

“Sure it will,” I said.

“And I’ll see you next week, right? For your first checkup? I’m flying down on Wednesday. You can tell me all about school.”

• • •

Three days before my first day back to school, Mom came into my bedroom and woke me up. I looked at my alarm clock, and since I was in that just-awake haze, it took me a second or two to figure out if it was midnight or noon.

“Lawrence Ramsey’s on the phone for you,” she whispered, sitting on the edge of my bed.

“What?” I sat up, squinting my eyes. It was definitely daytime because sunlight was filtering in through the curtains and heating up the side of my face.

“Lawrence Ramsey. He’s waiting for you.” She held a cordless phone with one hand, her other covering the bottom of it.

“Can you give me, like, five minutes?” I said, yawning.

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