Pieces of You: J.F. Elferdink
A flame flickers and eventually it is distinguished. A candle burns and then disappears leaving on the wax of a once vibrant and beautiful candle that lit up a darkened room. A person comes into your life and you begin a whirlwind relationship even though the distance between you might be miles or continents apart. When Mark faces a harsh realization that life has passed in by in many directions, he allows his devoted son and daughter-in-law to help him venture into the world of online dating. Aware of the fact that he has a medical problem, not really focusing on it and keep a positive outlook, he agrees to meet Janine. Profiles exchanged, small talk over and the conversations stimulating lead to a first meeting. Imagine after so many years realizing that you might have met your soul mate. Love, life and even candles often flicker and do light bulbs when the lifespan is about to die, the candle comes to an end and all that is left of the flames of a brutal fire are the ashes.
Mark and Janine share their conversations, phone calls and their dates with readers when Mark promises to meet with her for the holidays. Plans made but somehow that was not meant to be as Janine receives a phone a message from Mark’s son Martin that instead of seeing her he was in the hospital suffering from kidney failure, paralyzed and in what doctors referred to as a semi-coma. As Mark’s voice is heard, his fears come to light and then something happens to awaken his spirit and his mind. Imagine what some might call a guardian angel but others a spirit, a voice named Zachri, visits him stating that he was sent there because of Janine. Wanting to understand why he is there and hoping he will bring him out of his coma, Mark faces his present, past and hopefully a future with Janine. Facing the future means first reconciling with the past as Zachri takes him back in time to relive many painful, hurtful and tragic situations in order to help him decide if he wants to come back to Janine and his family or crossover to the other side. What would you do? What would you do if you got a taste of heaven and had the decision to make that confronted Mark?
When Mark begins his journey back in time he finds himself in Vietnam with his close friend who dies right in front of him. Trying to understand what is happening to him, the justification for killing so many he begins to see that good does not often out way the bad but that some situations were meant to happen and only changing his outlook now would he be able to reconcile his past. Janine sent this spirit to him hoping that Mark will come back to her but things do not always go as planned and he ventures back to his days with Peg, forestalling their marriage and his fears about a new venture that the bank he worked for was initiating. Do you go along with those at the top because it means a lot of money in the end? Do you research what they are going to do and decide to decline their idea? One young woman named Denise who befriend not only Mark but his friend Steve, learned what happened when she decided to go up against those that appeared to have the power. But, in the long run when you learn the end result you will realize that sometimes no one wins. Can you change your mind set in the present in order to become someone else in the future? As Mark remembers his times with Janine, his passion and their hope for a future, he explains why he is there, just how he can enlighten him and the choices that he will have to make for himself. Each step of the way we hear his son praying that he comes back to them and hoping for a sign that he is still alive.
Can you reinvent your life, revisit your past and reconstruct your future by repenting your sins, seeking absolution and hoping to forgive yourself for being greedy, selfish and unfeeling? If you could take a trip into the future and realize the downfalls that will occur would you want to live the life that would confine your goals, your thoughts and beliefs? Each time Janine has a dream it draws her closer into Mark’s world, visualizing their intimate times together, reliving their conversations and each time hoping he will awaken. Dreams often become realties if we belief what we see and allow ourselves to process what we have experienced. A simple train ride within her thoughts allows Janine to learn where Mark has been, the reasons for his indecision, his encounter with many banks, his reason for moving to Geneva and the understanding that living her life would require many changes.
Asking Zachri many questions that many of us have pondered. “What can I do for her, what sacrifices can I make, when I’m not even a functioning human being? I’m totally dependent on these doctors for the barest form of survival? Yet, she seems connected to him in many ways and often feels that his presence is there. Wanting to live and spend his life with her the spirit explains that he a messenger and in the Jewish tradition the angel who “governs memories and helps humans to review their strengths, and weaknesses.” In some sense you can say that not only does he help Mark on his journey but his thoughts and his help spill over to Janine.
Moving to 2025 we see a world that is much different from ours today. One where people no longer are allowed to live freely and without a stable government and laws are made to suit a certain group and others suffer at their hand. The wealthy had to make sure they are protected from the masses you might say. Living spaces are quite small and the world is not beautiful. Imagine a young child that cannot go outside and play with his friends. Imagine a father that is only allowed to see his family one-day a year and maybe part of the day on his child’s birthday. Imagine major banks closing, losing your life savings and investments and those that do not adhere to the rules will be vaccinated and not against any disease. Imagine having your mind scanned and your thoughts public knowledge. Imagine a child that cannot learn from the Internet and forced to be spoon-fed what others deem necessary.
Author J. F. Elferdink brings to light many issues as we read about Mark’s life, the choices that would forever change his destiny and the lives of others and then allow you the reader to determine what you would do if faced with what Mark learns. Can you change the past and admit your guilt and the fact that you made bad choices? If you knew that the world was in such despair, and you had the power to see what happens when you cross over what would you do?
Based on a true story and the author’s own experiences, she creates a story that many of us will remember, reread, revisit and wonder whether we have our own spirit guide that will lead us to make the right decision when the time is right. From the war in Vietnam, to his time in the many banks and the good and bad that occurred and the one final voice he hears, Mark must decide between Heaven and Janine.
Will Janine be able to understand the consequences of her decisions if Mark is gone? Will she be able to always connect with him? Which dimension will he seek and why? When you read Chapter 33 The Call and relive all of the incidents, experiences over again with Janine you will ponder and think long and hard when you find out Mark’s decision and wonder: Would I Have Done the Same?
Pieces of Mark will always be present and although things might change and his life takes a different turn we often wonder when we look into the flame of a burning fire, a candle that has just started to flare and a fireplace whose warmth fills an entire room whether some flames really do burn out or if true love as an eternal flame of its own.
Fran Lewis: reviewer