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Valerie Corral – 2

found my own way.

My father died from a malignant brain tumor. Momma, Mike and I took care of him here in Santa Cruz on Beach Hill. My mother’s heart broke that day. Yet he had a beautiful death, profound really. He has been my great teacher. I have teachers everywhere.

I was raised Catholic. I was convinced that I was being watched, interminably observed. God, Santa Claus, the watcher was always there to see if I was bad or good. Still, from an early age I simply knew I had goodness in my heart. I knew it, and I harbored no guilt about that–a realization that was certain to lead me from the church. But not before I had my first altered state experience.

I was with my family. It was Christmas Eve Mass, midnight mass, in Reno, Nevada. There were Gregorian chants. There was incense and the cadence of Latin. I was intoxicated by that rhythm; it was hypnotic. It was an emotional time for our family. My brother was preparing to leave for Vietnam. (That’s another story, one that still haunts me). But the spell of that moment carried me until I floated into a dream. Then I looked around and I started to get nervous, like I shouldn’t be having this weird episode in church, and I thought that I might get in trouble or something. My Dad noticed and nodded me outside. I stumbled

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