Renew, by Jeri Hazen

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is basically a story about reincarnation. I place it in the spirituallity genre. However it is not a boring, dry, preachy tale, it has humor and a grit to it. I hope you enjoy reading.

Submitted: October 15, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 15, 2012






A short story


By Jeri Hazen




Chapter 1


Hello, my name is Rita; I’m a 42 year old social worker who works at the 32nd ST Station homeless shelter just 3 blocks north of Times Square. It’s a nasty filthy place that smells of dirty socks, piss and old man ball sweat.

The walls are yellowed and the wallpaper is peeling in places. That’s in the places that are not tagged. Or urban muraled as it’s called now. The floors are sticky and grimy and haven’t seen a mop in well, probably never I suppose. Yes, it’s a nasty filthy place. And nothing like I was used to, growing up in the high class apartment that lined the Upper West Side of Central Park.  But the 32nd ST Station or “32”, is my life now, or was. Before I was raped and stabbed and left to bleed out and die in the little space that used to be my office.


Sorry, let me back up a little. Yes, I’m dead. I’ve been dead before and I’ll die again. And again and again. It’s part of the “process” to get past the gates. It’s something we all go through; we just only remember when we are in the gold room.

The gold room is where I’m sitting now with like 1000 other souls waiting for our conference. The gold room is endless and yet tiny and cramped all at the same time. It seems no matter how many souls get called out the room never empties. No one ever visibly enters yet you can see souls leave and still there is never an unoccupied seat. Just one of the many mysteries of the gold room no one has ever figured out.

Some souls visit and talk about the life they just left, but most of us just sit quietly and contemplate if this life was enough. Did I do all I was supposed to do? Did I learn all I was supposed to learn? Will I finally be able to go on? And was it all worth it in the end?

At least that’s what I wonder. If it will all be worth it? All these lives, all these “lessons”. For what after all?  True Paradise? What if true Paradise isn’t all that? I would sure hate to finally get to go through the gates just to go, that’s it?


Damn, sorry if you’re all confused now. I forget once you renew you forget all about the gold room and the conferences and the light ones.

So okay when you die you don’t always just go to heaven or hell. It’s just not that easy. Oh sure, eventually you get there but there is a process to it.

See, Heaven is a place of True Paradise for sure, but you have to be Pure to get in. Yes, just like they say, there is a pearly gate but you don’t just walk on in. And it takes more than one life to get pure. Many more lives.



Chapter 2


My name is Rita Rainbow Sonshine. Yes, that is my REAL name. I was born July 8, 1969 to George and Anne VanStanley. At least that was their names until June 1968 when they became Jer and Momo Sonshine. Good Drugs I guess.

Then in 1972 Jer and Momo discovered a way create a bonding agent of some kind, and sold the rights to a company for a gazillion dollars, and moved us to Park Avenue. They went back to George and Anne. I’m stuck with Rita Rainbow.

They asked me one time if I wanted to change it. I was used to it so I said no. Then when they died I was glad I didn’t change it. They gave me that name in freer happier times.

I loved my parents and they gave me a good life. I never wanted for anything. I was sheltered and protected and loved but the money changed them somehow. As a couple.

As long as I remembered my parents could never agree. There was a lot of anger and bitterness in the house when I was growing up. They never argued in front of me, but there were many a night I fell asleep to the sound of my parents screaming at each other.  I was only 9 when the small 2 seater plane they chartered went down over the cold Atlantic Ocean.

I remember the funeral was more of a party, and I had never before seen so many people all gathered in one place at the same time.

After my parents died I was shuttled back and forth between various relatives but they were really just more interested in the money than in me.  My parents had a hippie influence when it came to naming me but not when it came to money. They left me with more money than I could possible spend in many lifetimes. Once the initial shock of losing them had faded there were more hands out and lawsuits than one person can imagine.

That was all kind of a fuzzy time for me. I just felt all alone and for a long time very angry. I wanted my parents back. Even if they fought they loved me.


Eventually like all things time passes and the wounds heal. Life moves on. I went to college. Got married, got a degree in business, got a nice job at a marketing firm and had made my way to vice president when it all went to shit.

Same old story came home early from a business meeting, walked in on my husband spanking his secretary.

The humiliation and devastation brought me back to my 10th birthday. Family members suing over the right to throw me a party. I spent my birthday crying in my closet. Wanting just one more time with all my heart to have my mother hug me. To have my dad wish me a happy birthday and tell me I don’t look a day over 9.

No one looked for me. They rode the ponies and roller coasters and even sang happy birthday to me. And they didn’t even need me there to sing, they made a cut out of me. But then the party was never about me. It never was.

Just like my user of a husband. When I saw him that last day with his secretary and he saw me, he just smirked. I think that was the worst. So I left and contacted my lawyers. Told them to do what they had to do. We signed a prenup so at most he'll get 100 grand. Worth it to get him out of my life.


So now what do I do? In my life I’ve been pampered and loved, but also used and betrayed and I decided to make a change. I went back to school and got a degree in social work and that’s how I ended up at the 32.

I was 38 years old the day I walked into the 32. The smell caught me off guard and I almost puked. The sight of the poor broken people in their ragged clothes and dirty faces turned my heart. I knew here was the place I was meant to be.

I worked at the 32 for almost 4 years and it was the hardest and most fulfilling time of my life. I learned the people weren’t broken like they looked, just maybe a little bent by the struggles of life. I finally found a good routine to my life and I was happy.

Until a kid hopped up on something broke in my office one night. He was waiting when I walked in the next morning. He was angry and he raped me and stabbed me and the whole time he just kept murmuring in my ear this is what I get, this is what I deserve over and over again. Then he finished and he left. I died bleeding from the stab wound in my breast. By the time my associate found me it was too late. I was gone.




Chapter 3


Now I sit in the gold room waiting for the light ones to call me for my conference.

A conference is where the light one replays your life back over for you to see what you’ve learned from this lifetime. Each lifetime or “renew” is independent of any others. You can rarely remember anything that happened in previous lifetimes and then it’s only dreamlike. Only when you’re in between can you remember all your lives.

There are 6 things all must learn before you can go on to True Paradise. Honor, Kindness, Forgiveness, Selflessness, Humility, and Patience. You can have a lifetime where you learn some, or even sometimes, none.

When the light ones replay your life they can feel as you felt, and they know what you have known. Only they can decide what you have learned and if it is enough to go on.

Going through a conference is so hard and yet so rewarding to go back over your life and see your accomplishments. Yes there is sorrow but in the in between you have knowledge of all of your lives and so the feelings are somehow muted. If you had to feel all the sorrow of all the pain of all your past lives you would want to kill yourself. But as your dead that is not an option.  So the powers that be have designed the in-between to be a time of knowledge and reflection. You do feel some sadness and some happiness and it is bearable.

The worst part of the conference, what makes us all so anxious is waiting to see if it’s finally enough to go on through the gates.

You ever been waiting to be called in for a job interview? That’s what this feels like.


I feel a tug that’s hard to explain and I know I’m being called in now. I go by some instinct to a lighted one and enter the life I had just once lived.

I see Jer and Momo conceive me and I watch my birth.  I laugh as I watch myself open Christmas presents as a toddler and cry as I watch my father bury a beloved cat I thought was just lost.  I watch as the plane carrying my parents go down and then the funeral. I watch myself get married and divorced. And the time goes by so slowly I can re-experience it all and yet it seems to fly by so fast at the same time. I watch as I walk into the shelter on that first day and then on the last.

Then it’s over. The lighted one says nothing as they never do. When it’s over there is just nothing for a moment.  Then a blast of light and you are either renewed or passed on. Now I’m in the light and then…



Chapter 4


My name is Matthew Pelliter. I was born in a bathroom of Union Hospital in Moose Jaw. A small city in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Why was I born in a bathroom? Well I’m the youngest of 7 siblings, and while in labor with me, my mother felt like she had to use the bathroom. After 6 kids her birth canal was pretty loose, and when she went to “go” she had me. In the bathroom.

 This has been a subject of torment, and much teasing from my siblings since the day I came home from the hospital. I hate the teasing, I mean it’s not like it was my fault. I was just a baby. But it does make for an interesting start in life.

I had a pretty good childhood I feel, all things considered. We didn’t have a lot of money but we never wanted for anything. My overall feeling was a busy, packed house full of laughter, warmth, and love.

My father was a giant hulk of a man with a deep voice that seemed to rumble the house. He was quiet man with a slick sense of humor. We lost him to cancer when I was 15.

My mother was the kindest woman I’ve ever known. She fed every stray that came around, and would weep inconsolably when she lost any of the numerous animals we had around while I was growing up. Yet when Dad died she barely shed a tear. When I asked her about it once she smiled, and said Dad told her she was not allowed to cry when he goes. He said he wasn’t one of her “damn animals” and would be insulted to be wept over like one. We lost Mom 2 years later to a drunk driver.

When Mom died we sold the house and all kind of went our separate ways. Most of my siblings had already moved out, gotten married, some had kids. We were living our own lives now.

I went to college, got my B.A. and ended up working in the casino business. I got married to the 2nd most wonderful woman in the world. Jeni gave me two exceptional children, Drew and Lola.

Jeni and I were married for 21 wonderful years when we went on would turn out to be the worst camping trip of our lives.



Chapter 5


Jeni and I have been working hard lately with not much time off.  I’m the general manager of a casino outside Seattle, Washington.  Jeni runs a day care center in our home. Drew is in the Air force, and Lola is in her senior year at the University of Washington. The kids managed to arrange some time off and book a camping site on the coast just south of Forks. I called in some favors and two wonderful weeks off. Jeni had her staff cover her and off we went for some quality family time.


Camping was great at first. Drew brought his girlfriend, Mia, and Lola brought her girlfriend, Rubi. The weather was clear and warm. The campsite was right on the beach with the backdrop of forest the Pacific Northwest is abundant with. The water a little too cold for us older folks but the kids didn’t mind. It rained a bit the 4th day but it just made the air fresh and clean. It was on day 6 it all went downhill.

Jeni was walking on the beach with the girls looking for shells. The girls were looking for stuff from Japan. Items lost during the earthquake and following tsunami are washing up on the shores all along the West Coast. I think it’s morbid myself, but Lola has always had a bit of a weird dark grim side.

So, I’m sitting at the camp smoking a joint just relaxing and enjoying my bit of free time, when I hear Jeni cry out. I run over to where she and the girls are, and when I get there, I see I large gash on her big toe. She has cut her toe on a piece of glass and blood is gushing.

Drew comes running up and we decide Jeni needs stitches and I’ll take her. No sense in all of us leaving and the day is so nice. I told them to relax; we’ll be back in a few hours all stitched up and good as new.

Jeni died less than 2 weeks later from an infection she received getting her stitches.


Chapter 6


I got old when Jeni died. My kids went on to have happy successful lives.

Drew married Mia and gave me 3 wonderful grandchildren. Jenny, Andrew, and Laura. He is an officer now and they live a nice life in Virginia. I see them about 4 times a year.

Lola is a criminal investigator in San Diego, she and Rubi live in a nice condo in La Jolla. They plan to be married next year. I can’t wait to walk my baby girl down the aisle. I just wish Jeni were here to see it. She loved Rubi almost as much as she loved Lola, and it was Jeni who made me see it didn’t matter if it was a man or woman who loved our little girl as long as she was loved.

After Jeni died, I quit my job at the casino. Having to listen to the players bitch all day long about losing got old. We had invested our money well and I was financially comfortable.

I did some travelling, but without my Jeni it just wasn’t all that fun. She was the one who made walk down the unpaved trail. She was the one who would people watch and tell me funny stories about them.

I came back home and did some volunteering. I filled my days with gardening and house improvements. I watched as my children lived their lives and was proud of the parents they became.

Jeni and I did a great job with them and I was satisfied with the people they had become.

I died of a heart attack in my sleep when I was 54.



Chapter 7


Back to the gold room.  This was a nice life. As I sit and wait for my conference I go back over my life again. And again I think to myself, did I learn all I was supposed to this time? Would this time finally be the time I get to pass through the gates?

 Now don’t get me wrong, I like living my lives. I have had some really good lives, and some not as good lives. I have been a gladiator and I was once a Knight sitting at King Arthur’s round table. But I have also been a rapist and a child killer.

Let me see if I can explain more how this whole process works. I know I kind of touched on some of the aspects before, when I had just finished my life as Rita.

How about if I explain about how you meet up with your loved ones after you die? Common theory is, when you die, if you’re good, you go to Heaven and all your loved ones who have passed before you, meet you there and you have a big party.

If you are evil and bad, you go to hell, where Satan and Osama jabs you with a pitchfork until the end of time.

Yeah, see it’s really not like that at all, in actuality. First, there isn’t really Hell per se. We all have many, many opportunities to learn all the lessons we are supposed to. Some have only to renew a dozen times to pass, some may have to renew hundreds of times to pass. And yes, there are some, who are flawed for whatever reason, are just such pure and absolute evil, that no matter how many times they renew, they are unable to achieve Pure state.

Once the light ones get such a soul, the “bad” soul is sent to live forever among the living. That is Hell. To wander among the living for all time knowing you can never pass into True Paradise.

When you hear of a “haunting”, that is a soul that cannot get Pure. Some are not that bad. And some are just as bad as you can get.

Now, you may want to know about what happens to the people you love who die before you. As you know now, you don’t just die and get to go through the gates and party it up with your grandma and Elvis.

The real truth is, all the people you love will keep renewing in your lives as you renew. It sounds weird, but your grandpa in one renew, could be your wife in your next.

Love is fluid but also fixed. When you renew, your sex, personality, wants, needs, beliefs, and values all change. You can live a life as a male, bigoted, homophobic, serial killer, and then renew into in a tiny female ballet dancer, who volunteers for Greenpeace.

But the love you hold for a soul stays with you forever. Your “soulmate” was with you when you last renewed, and will be with you when you renew again. Only when you finally pass, do you separate from all you love. And then it’s only temporary until THEY finally pass. Once you all pass you can party with Elvis. (However I hear Elvis was renewed and became a Beiber?)

Like I said before, some souls talk while they wait for their conference. I’m not actually quite sure what a Beiber is but it doesn’t sound good.

It’s nice to know all you love stays with you. My last life with Jeni was one of my best. It would just suck all to know I would never see Jeni again.

Oh, I feel that tug again that tells me it’s time for my conference.


I’m with the light one looking back over my life. I see my childhood house on the plains of Saskatchewan. I watch my father spin my mother as they dance in the kitchen. I see him steal a kiss and pat her bum before she goes back to her cooking. I see my older brother fall out the tree and break his neck. I see Jeni at the grocery store picking out a ripe melon. And I see Jeni laugh as she spills all the melons on the floor. I watch as my children are born and again as my grandchildren are born. I see Jeni in the hospital on that last day. I watch as I visit the pyramids and the Great Wall of China and I see the loneliness on my face.

I see me at home sleeping in my bed.

Then it’s over. A blast of light and then…



Chapter 8


Hello, my name is Pradeep Sanjay. I was born in a back alley in a slum in Nepal. My mother is a poor hard woman who sells flowers in a stall. She was raped the first time when she was only 12. I am the third child and there is not enough money to feed one. I die when I’m only two months old.



Chapter 9


In the gold room again. I don’t understand what I was supposed to learn. How can anyone learn anything as an infant and in only two months? I’m just grateful I didn’t have any longer in that life. It would have been a rough life.


I feel the pull of being called for my conference and I’m surprised as it wasn’t that long of a wait.

My short terrible life plays through. I see my father raping my mother and I watch myself being born. I see the sorrow and weariness of a bad life on my mother’s face. I feel the pain in my belly and I watch myself die.


The light one turns to me and this has never happened. I hear a sound like bells ringing and a piano playing and chainsaw all wrapped up to make a noise I have never heard and could never conceive.

“My child,” I hear in this strange noise. “You learned Honor when you were renewed as Sir William the Knight. You learned Humility when you were renewed as Priscus the Gladiator. You learned Patience when you were renewed as Monsignor Pavón. You learned Kindness when you were renewed as Rita Sonshine. You learned Selflessness when you were renewed as Matthew Pelleter and last of all you learned Forgiveness when you were renewed as Pradeep Sanjay.”


Can it be? I think. Then the blast of light.


I’m standing in front of the most mammoth set of white pearlescent gates and they are open!

I walk through.


The end.

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