-By Ruby Arreola

I was about 5 or 6 years old when one night my older brother picked us all up from Richmond, CA to take us to his house in Oakland for a night of partying. On the way, my brother witnessed for the first time my dad (not his dad) slapping my mother. He didn't react, at first. My father ended up dead that night. I'm sorry to say I witnessed bits and pieces of it, but being a little kid, It didn't shock me as much as it would have now.

The next morning, I found my mother crying standing by the heater. I went to her and told her everything is going to be all right. I wasn't sad, but relieved that the bad man who hurt my mommy was gone. I was sad for my mom though. The detectives found my dad's body about 2 weeks later in Napa Valley and arrested my bother after he confessed he killed my dad by shooting him several times in self defense. My dad had such a long rap sheet on his criminal activity, they didn't doubt my brother's claim of self defense. My brother went away for about 2 years.

One night, a year after my father's death, I was laying with my mother in her bed (we all, my little brother, sister, and I slept with our mom every night), when in the darkest hours of the morning, something woke me up. I looked to the ceiling and there was a glow. I focused in on the glow, and it resembled a head. I looked to my mother to see if she was awake, and if she wasn't, I was going to wake her all right! She was looking in the same spot I was on the ceiling. I didn't say anything and looked to the ceiling again. It was my dad's head and his face looked distorted like he was in pain. His mouth was moving like he was trying to tell us something, but no sound came out. We continued to look, just stare, for about 5 minutes. A funny thing though, I didn't feel scared. When I looked at my dad, I felt an intense sadness radiating from him. I'm sure my mom felt the same thing. Finally I said, "Dad your forgiven." He looked at me and smiled a weak smile and he vanished. I was smiling as I fell back to sleep.

I've been wanting, for a long time, to discuss this shared experience with my mom, but she passed away when I was 11. I just hope they both are resting in peace.
PS: This is a very true story.

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