"Larry…..open your eyes, Larry."

He became conscious. At first he thought he had woken up, stuck in that place between asleep and fully awake, eyes still closed. He could not get his body to move. He was laying (standing? floating) still, feeling peaceful, so peaceful he believed he could live in this limbo forever. A radiant warmth flowed over his body like summer sunshine without the burn.

"Larry….come on now, Larry, it's time to go home…"

Where was he? New York? Los Angeles? Had there been a place called Los Angeles, where Larry had lived (Las Angeles?) Larry…was he Larry? Did the word Larry mean him? He tried to remember time, how to think about time, words like past and present whispered in his mind but he could not remember what those meant. Why struggle? Just rest, lay in this warm light of …the

Light. Hot, blinding light. Las…Vegas….was he still in Las Vegas? Had the bad man disappeared? Where was the other? What other? There was a man…a feather in a hat…what had happened to him? He tried to remember, his brain working slowly at first, then picking up steam, like a locomotive pulling out of the station. All aboard, folks, it's time to go.

Time to go, time to go, time to stand. Time for Larry to stand against the bad man, Larry ain't no nice guy, Larry…

"I am Larry." Did he say that out loud? Was there "out loud" anymore? What was going on? Larry tried to tell himself to open his eyes and realized that he had no eyes, no limbs, no mouth to talk, no ears to hear, he just was. Then he heard it again, heard it without ears but heard the voice, louder this time.

"Come on now, Larry, you've got to come home. Everyone wants to see you! You don't want to keep them waiting, no sir, you best wake up Larry because it's time to go."

That voice…he heard it with his heart, not the beating heart but the heart, the kind he used to sing about a long time ago, another age. Wake up, she said, who said, she said, Mother Abagail….Mother Abagail….he heard her voice with his heart and he knew

"I'm dead…"

"Yes Larry, dead but not gone, you're home now. And you need to wake up now son, it's time. There's someone here who wants to see you and it's impolite to keep a lady waiting."

Larry tried to wake up, but how to wake up without a body, without eyes, limbs, a vessel to bring back from sleep? I can't, he thought, I can't wake up, I'm dead and the dead don't wake up, dead, dead is dead…

The sound of laughter reached Larry again, but it was warm, friendly laughter, not cold and mocking like the laugh of….of the thing in Vegas, what happened in Vegas? He and Ralph, (Yes, Ralph! I know Ralph) and they had been waiting for the pain, for death, seeing the fear in the eyes in the crowd, he had felt peace and fear and waiting and then the light…

The hand of God, Ralph had said. It was over, the light, the light, the bomb! Over, it was over! Lucy safe, Leo safe, Boulder safe, Frannie and the Baby, and Stu….Tom? What happened to Stu and Tom?

"East Texas is just fine, so is that sweet boy Tom, they're all fine, Larry, we'll tell you all about it, but we have to go now."

A peace, a relief swept through that which was Larry, and he felt himself waken. Only this awakening was like nothing he had felt before. The warmth he felt became a light, a light he could see with his heart, and it was so beautiful that Larry thought he would have burst into tears of joy had he been able to do so. Then, in that light, there was a shape, a shape he could feel with his heart and then he could sense it with something like sight, and as he focused, he saw the smiling face and warm eyes of Mother Abagail . She looked neither old nor young, but the eyes, the smile, the voice, those he knew.

"Well there you are Larry! It's so good to see you," she drew him close in an embrace and he felt love and peace sweep over him again. She pulled away and looked into his sight, right into his heart. "You done good Larry, so good. Welcome home!"

"Is this…is this heaven?" Larry asked in disbelief.

"Almost, Larry. Almost. You'll be there soon. Our time is short. There is someone who wants to see you. She will guide you the rest of the way."

Mother Abigail faded from his sight and Larry waited. The scent hit him first, sachet, then the smell of a kitchen, the smell of Yankee Stadium hot dogs in the summer, the scent of his childhood bedroom. Larry felt the heart energy, his heart, swell with love and joy so strong he would not have been able to bear it had he still been alive. He yearned and reached for the shape that had begun to appear in the light, had begun to take shape, but he already knew who it was.

Alice. Mother. His Mother. Larry's heart-eyes focused and he saw his mother, young, vibrant and happy. The love and joy radiating off of her warmed Larry even more than the light, and he felt something else, something he didn't recognize until she drew near.

Pride.

That which had been Alice Underwood embraced that which had been Larry, her son, her wayward, misguided, selfish son, the son she had loved so much in spite of his actions, in spite of herself and her disappointment.

"Larry, my dear beautiful boy Larry,"

"I'm not a bad guy, I'm a nice guy….I'm a nice guy. I loved a woman, Ma, Lucy, you would have liked her. I made friends Mom, real friends, oh Ma, how I wish you could have been there to see it all, to meet them, Ma, I'm so sorry I left you, I love you…" his weeping became sobs and he held close to his mother. She held on so tight, Larry thought he could feel her arms around him, hugging him. His heart wept in joy and a sorrow, and the tears in his heart flowed down through him, cleansed him of the last of his doubt and of his wounds of who he used to be. He was a different Larry now, God's Larry, and God's Larry could look at his mother without shame and God's Alice could look right back at him in pure love, without pity, without shame of her own.

"I know, Larry, I know all of it, oh Larry, I am so proud of you. I am so, so very proud of you." He looked down and he could see hands, his hands, being held by the hands of his mother. "And now, I have come to take you home. There is much to tell you, so much for you to see and to know. You're going to be a father, Larry."

Now Larry's heart exploded in love, faith and love, and joy. "A father? Me? Lucy is…"

"Yes, Larry, Lucy is carrying your child. Two of them, in fact. You can find out all about it when we get there." She let go of his hand, and grasped the crook of his elbow. "It's time to go."

"I know," Larry looked over his shoulder and in the space of time that cannot be measured, he saw his whole life leading up to that moment in Las Vegas and he felt peace. He let it go, turned the last page on the book that was his life and closed it. Larry Underwood looked forward and beyond. He placed his hand on his mother's hand, resting in the crook of his arm, and he let his heart join the bright light of love.