A wooded cemetery at twilight is not the place to be, the author thought to herself as she paused in front of a headstone in the midst of an overgrown Michigan graveyard in 1995. The heavy feeling of a troubled presence caused her to call out, “Whoever is here, my heart is with you,” as she rushed anxiously to catch up with her friends. Shortly thereafter she awoke with a male voice in her head and immediately began to record his story as she heard it dictated.
The voice belonged to Aaron Burke, abducted by his Irish father at age four and taken to the U.S., less for companionship than the income he could produce through menial labor. Several years of odd jobs in a cross-country odyssey ended in Northern Michigan when the old man acquired a piece of land and convinced a kindhearted widow to marry him. His stepmother proved to be Aaron’s savior, providing him with a rudimentary education and the courage to set out on his own. Aaron married, started a family, and had seemingly conquered his upbringing, but tragedy took his wife and one child, and Aaron abandoned his two surviving children and fell into the life of an itinerant laborer that mirrored his early years. When a farming accident took his life, there was no one to mourn.
At this point the narrative takes a metaphysical turn as the author describes her experience of Aaron, who finds himself still present, though unseen, in the physical world. With him are other weary beings sitting by their graves lost in silent ruminations. One communicative spirit was Marnie, who grudgingly showed Aaron the ropes, but was unable to answer how Aaron and the others stuck in the “Second Layer” could find the pathway leading to the loved ones who were waiting for them to cross over. Aaron felt that his bitterness and betrayal doomed him to this purgatory, until the author’s chance utterance gave him hope.
Dewey has a background as a teacher of music, art, and remedial reading, and has been a jingle composer and a writer for local newspapers. She was just beginning to explore her spiritual side when, with the help of friends with more supernatural expertise, she was able to help Aaron peacefully cross over. She recounts Aaron’s struggles, in life and after, with poignancy and humor in a straightforward style befitting a simple man. While this book may not be for all tastes, readers already inclined toward Dewey’s beliefs will likely be left with the notion that perhaps, sometimes, even death isn’t the end of the story.