She’d been 12 at the time and asked him because, while kneeling in church praying with the rest of the congregation, she felt an acute ache in her belly and collapsed. She found out afterwards that Mr. Cunningham, the largest man in the church, had to pull her limbs out from in between the prie dieu and the stone floor. He carried her like a limp lamb outside.
When Dorie regained consciousness, she cried, “No. I want to go back.”
Her parents decided she was delusional and put her to bed for a week.
During that week, she laid with her head on the pillow staring at the ceiling, willing herself to return to the glorious passage she’d entered. Light had beamed on and within her. Soft voices soothed her. She felt lighter than a feather and an inexpressible feeling of joy surrounded her. Pure bliss, that’s what she kept whispering to herself.
No one in her family or the church believed her, and in fact, they didn’t want to hear about the passageway. So within weeks, and then years, Dorie kept the secret passageway to herself.
But now, 50 years later, Dorie was waiting, waiting, waiting for the opportunity to once again enter the invisible door. “Another round of chemo, a different combo, should work this time,” Dr. Templeton suggested. Dorie, a mom of three, grandmother of one, wife of a loving husband and friend to many, shook her head no.
She refused further treatment. Her family argued with her and tired of her whisperings morning, day, and night, “The Passageway.”
One morning, weak and tired despite days in bed, Dorie pulled herself out from under the sheets and walked over to the window, where an early sun gleamed down at her. She closed her eyes and fervently prayed, “Now. Please.”
Suddenly, she heard it. That familiar (though it had been decades) sound like a quiet vacuum, sucking her into its dark hole. Time collapsed and she wound up and through the passage, light and airy, as warm as a womb. She floated as the voices whispered a welcome. Something approached her – a being? – and she became suffused with a joy so blissful no word sufficed.
Finally, she’d found the secret passageway once more.