Recently, I wrote a paper where I related the strange story concerning the time when a couple of comic books became intimately connected with one of the significant events of my young life.
Ms. Blades (my teacher)
12 February 2008
The Synchronicity of Angels
I was fifteen years-old when I first encountered the singular principle of synchronicity. Of course, I had no consciousness of it at the time. Only the knowledge acquired by my future self enabled me later to reflect upon this moment as the first recognizable instance of harmonious ‘together-time’ in my life.
It was late at on a Friday night of in the summer of 1992. It wasn’t too many years before that the Berlin Wall had fallen, the Soviet Union had collapsed, and the United States had waged war against Iraq in the Middle East. But, as a soon-to-be high school sophomore living in dream-like Orange County, California, I was only superficially aware of these facts. I was sitting on the blue L-shaped couch in my living room, re-reading some comics books I had just purchased that afternoon, when I heard the phone ring. Not long after, my mother came in and commanded simply, “Put your shoes on.”
While I was not altogether keen to obey, her abrupt tone and manner brooked no debate. Wordlessly, I complied, being informed as I did so that it was the hospital that had called. This was the hospital where my father had just undergone an angioplasty, which was supposed to have been a success. My father, John Christian R. IV*, was a sports radio broadcaster who had been employed by Cal State Fullerton for ten years during the 80’s, calling the play-by-play for the Titan’s baseball, basketball, and football progams. However, he had recently been hired by the radio station KMPC to do the same for UCLA Bruin’s football. His career was really starting to take-off. He had even filled-in on a couple of Angels’ games earlier that summer, drawing ever closer to his most fervent dream of becoming a Major League Baseball broadcaster. Nearing the end of his forty-first year, my father was about to start his second season as UCLA’s play-by-play announcer. But then he began to have severe chest pains.
It’s difficult now to remember what exactly was going through my mind at the time, but I don’t think I allowed myself to dwell much on what the phone call might portend. It was enough to find my way out of the house and slide into the backseat of the car. Soon we were driving down the street, my older half-brother, Michael, at the wheel, heading directly for the home of my sister’s friend. There she was spending the night, just a few blocks away, within the confines of our suburban tract neighborhood. Kristen Michelle was bleary-eyed as she plopped onto the backseat and at first seemed to have trouble remembering how to operate the seatbelt. A few strands of her long, red hair caught within the door, so she opened it again to free them, then turned as if to speak. Seeming to sense this, our mother turned her head. Kristen quickly changed her mind when she saw the steel in mother’s eyes.
Within minutes our white Grand Marquis was driving up the freeway entrance, first traveling east on the 91, then transferring north to the Interstate 5. At one point Kristen became bold enough to venture a single question, “What’s happening, mother?”
But our mother did not respond. She simply stared straight ahead through the windshield as the city lights and the lines of the road streaked by. Quiet midnight surrounded us and silence filled the car as my sister perhaps realized our journey had only one possible destination: Los Angeles, the City of Angels. And the Good Samaritan Hospital where our father had undergone surgery just a few short hours before.
As the freeway was practically empty, we made very good time. Soon we were navigating L.A.’s surface streets, then arriving in the parking lot of the hospital itself. Upon entering the sterile halls of the Good Samaritan, we were quietly ushered into a large operating room. There lay the still, motionless form of my father, John Christian R. IV. It was now around one-o’ in the morning. We later learned that he had died shortly after midnight.
Kristen was in tears. As for myself, I displayed no such emotion. Although my mind registered an intense shock, I could only gaze silently upon the cold, dead body of my father. I did not approach him, and no tears welled up in my eyes. Although this man had brought seed into my mother’s womb, which helped form me and my younger sister, he had not been a true father to me. The usual bond of a father and son did not exist between us. He was my biological progenitor and little more. Unfortunately, that was something my mother did not understand. No sign of mourning being noted in her elder son, Michael, she could accept, for he was a child of her first husband. But she regarded me coldly, flinging piercing icy daggers from her eyes. It seemed that Linda Carol, beautiful song (and that she is) felt somehow betrayed by her son. A terse order issued from her lips. “Touch him,” she said, “He’s your father.”
I complied, though I knew that her statement was no longer true in any sense. What lay before me now was just an empty shell. The life was gone, the spirit had departed the body. My father was dead.
Upon returning to our home in west Fullerton, no one spoke. Everyone but me went to bed. I knew attempting to sleep would be futile, so I soon resumed re-reading my comic books in the living room. The first one I began to read was called WildC.A.T.S. (C.A.T.S being an acronym for Covert Action Teams). The story described the millennia-old conflict between two races of aliens who had crash-landed on earth in the distant past. The Kherubim were human in appearance yet wielded supernatural powers, while the monstrous Daemonites had the ability to possess humans, to inhabit their bodies and control their minds. On the first page (of the first issue of this new title released by the start-up company, Image Comics,) I received something of a shock. Apparently, someone had discovered a mysterious orb in the northern wastes of Russia**. But what truly disturbed me was a caption which related the date of this discovery: August 9, 1992. In what seemed a bizarre coincidence, that just happened to be this day, the very day my father had died. As if that was not strange enough, I next read the second issue Spawn, a supernaturally-themed comic concerning a murdered CIA agent; he was brought back from the dead by the Devil with supernatural powers. This ‘gift’ was in return for his services and in hopes of seeing his wife again. In one intensely violent scene from Spawn #2, a demon named The Violator savagely ripped somebody’s heart out. Now my father had heart disease. His first heart attack occurred when he was only twenty-nine, and he had open-heart surgery in his mid-thirties. He finally succumbed to the disease after his angioplasty operation failed.
At the time, I had no word to describe these peculiar ‘coincidences’. However, several years later, in 2001 when I was twenty-four years-old, I would stumble upon the concept of synchronicity. Wikipedia offers the following definition: “Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events which occur in a meaningful manner, but which are causally un-related. In order to be synchronous, the events must be related to one another conceptually, and the chance that they would occur together by random chance must be very small. (Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia Web Page. 11 Feb. 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity>). While some may believe this idea to be mystical and strange, I am certainly not the only one who has ever had such an experience. Certainly events simply cannot be explained without acknowledging the spiritual nature of our reality.
The title of the story in issue #1 is "Resurrection Day".
*My name isn't John Christian -- V. My father decided not to burden me with the title due to his memories of being ridiculed at school.
**Correction: the online summaries record that the orb was found by a Daemonite in Antarctica, so I must have remembered incorrectly. Void, a character named who appeared in the scene, was originally a Russian cosmonaut from Archangel (Arkhangelsk), so I must have merged her nationality with the location of the orb's discovery in my memory.
Another connection/synchronicity between my life and Image Comics. I grew up in Fullerton, CA (and was living there when my father died), which is where Rob Liefeld, one of the founders of Image made his home at the time. Liefeld's Young Blood (government superhero team) would later guest-star in that same WildC.A.T.s miniseries. Incidentally, Fullerton, CA is where Philip K. Dick was living when he had his visions
. (Read under the sub-heading Divine Invasion
.) Note that I do no5 support Dick's beliefs, as he seems to have become heavily influenced by Gnosticism after his experience in Feb. of 1974. VALIS
(1981), the first in his gnostic-themed series, was featured in the latest episode of Lost (on Feb. 21).