As I stared down at the document laying open upon the top of my desk with pen in hand hovering as if it were a sword about to fall and sever a long line of wonderful memories, I was about to discover if I was right and was going to be paid a visit by the dead this evening?
Surprisingly, I honestly could say that I was not scared. Apprehensive perhaps, for its not every day that you encounter an entity from beyond the grave! But should I indeed rendezvous with a specter of the deceased, I felt I had nothing to fear.
Or so I hoped!
The deep soul-emptying sorrow I had been living through was temporarily forgotten by the anticipation of what I might experience very soon. It is strange beyond belief how a possible encounter with the dead could end up making one feel alive again.
In order to test my hypothesis, the pen in my hand began to descend to where it was about to encounter the document just waiting for my signature, when I realized that I was no longer alone! I could sense a presence lurking directly behind me as if daring me to turn around and cast eyes upon whichever shape I was to encounter this night...a vision as they had been earlier in life; or the visage of what nearly a year in the ground could do to a body.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see naught but a shadow moving closer from behind as if to encompass me. Despite all of the re-assurances I had given myself of how this would be a benevolent encounter, the reality of the moment began to work upon my imagination until an eerie sense of dread began to consume me. I could feel my body begin to tremble…until the lightest touch of what I assumed must be a hand came to rest upon my shoulder as if to let me know that I had nothing to fear.
I reveled at the touch; my body moving backwards as if I could amplify what I was experiencing a thousand-fold in an effort to make up for all of the times I had sought solace in just such a touch—only to become distraught when I remembered how it was forever regulated to be a memory from the past.
How long I was awash in old feelings of joys now gone I do not know. Eventually, I heard myself say “I knew you would come”, unsure if conversation would be how we were to communicate.
To my utter happiness, I heard a voice as sweet as I remembered and could only experience within the framework of one of our old home movies say, “I had to…but then you had counted on that, didn’t you?”
“I wasn’t positive, but I could certainly hope,” I replied
“I must admit, it was a well-conceived trap you had set for me,” the voice of my beloved dead wife replied with a whisper into my ear carrying just a hint of laughter in her tone. “And you even have brought in my old favorite chair for the occasion; how thoughtful.”
“I apologize for my unfamiliarity with your situation,” I replied; “but as one can imagine, I honestly have no idea of what you can experience. You can sit, can’t you?” I inquired.
“If I can’t, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference,” she answered pleasantly.
I could sense the presence behind me begin to move in the direction of the chair…which would mean that she would be facing me directly.
If there had been any angst at what image I should encounter, my heart soared at the sight of my sweet precious Robyn as beautiful as the day we were married. While the image was hazy and had a tendency to blur from moment to moment, she was easy to recognize.
Reading the wide smile upon my face coupled with the light of love shining from my eyes, she announced that she had suspected I would like the persona she had chosen to appear as.
"Shall we get down to the matter at hand?” she suggested in a way which I could easily recall resembled more of a directive than an idea.
“Do you have any idea how much I’ve missed you?” I asked before the potential for confrontation was raised.
Dropping her head, it was awhile before she could answer. “Yes…I do. I have been watching you from afar; I know the depth of your pain. My spirit aches for what you are having to go through. If it is any consolation, I can identify your sorrow as it is what I am suffering through as well,” she declared, the despair in her voice indicating the truth of what she had revealed.
My curiosity took over as I asked the inevitable question of what was it like over on the ‘other side’.
“It’s not really all that different from what I can recall of the land of the living. You can think…have feelings…even become frustrated. The major difference is the fact that the world of the physical has been taken away. While learning how to walk-through walls can be fun, one longs for the ability to feel something tangible and the world of sensation.”
Intrigued, I questioned what could possibly make a spirit of the dead frustrated.
“Waiting for you,” is all she would say. The flickering of the lights gave me the notion of the depth of her own sorrow at our separation.
I had to ask. “How much longer are you going to have to wait?”
“You know I can’t tell you that,” was her only reply.
“Can’t…or won’t?” I tried again.
“Either one—take your pick,” she answered in a way that I knew there would be no answer forthcoming.
Becoming nervous at what direction I knew the conversation was to go, I began toying with my pen. I had managed to stall as long as I could just to enjoy being with her, but I knew that it was time. What shocked me was the fact that she verbalized my thoughts back to me word for word!
“Oh, that’s not fair!” I chastised her; but all she did was laugh. “How are you going to punish me…send me to bed without dinner?” she countered.
It was when I responded with threatening to sign the document before me that I knew—for a brief moment at least—that I had the upper hand.
“Look…I know why you want to do this; how could I not?” she answered the obvious. “But I want to hear it directly from you…why do you want to sell our house?”
“Technically, you would be talking about my house, would you not?” I began the discussion with a very good point to make.
She remained quiet for a moment or two, until I could almost hear the tears she could not shed when she asked “Is that how you truly think of this house?”
“You know that it’s not!” I corrected her in a voice I had not used for so very long.
“Then why are you doing this, John?” she more begged for than demanded an answer. “This was our house for over 35 years John…our house! Everything we were to become was found and discovered under this roof; our children ran free to their hearts content out in our back yard—I can still hear the sounds of their squeals of joy as they played. So much love and joy spread over years of colorfully-wrapped presents under a beautifully decorated Christmas tree…Easter egg hunts where you would carry some around in your pocket to make sure that the littlest ones would find their share…Fourth-Of July fireworks…Thanksgiving dinners with children and grandchildren once ours had grown…the excitement of the first snows of winter…birthday parties with children so happy that their laughter could not be contained until it became absorbed by these walls to become part of this house forever just as it became a part of us. After thirty-five years, this house is us…and we are it. How can you throw that all away?” she asked, her voice carrying a tone of sadness reminiscent of the day when she had been first told of her disease and the imminent conclusion to a wonderful life.
“Because there no longer is an us,” my answer barely above a whisper as I had trouble finding my voice. “Robyn My Love, you were absolutely right in what you had just expressed,” I admitted (although my tears being shed were real and tangible). “But there-in lies the problem” I told her as I was able to find my full voice once again. “Every one of those oh-so-precious moments lives on in my heart with a memory so clear as if they were only yesterday. There isn’t a day goes by when something as simple as walking into the kitchen doesn’t bring back a special moment so precious that I feel as if I would burst should I not share what I feel and remember.”
Coming over to stand before her, I did my best to help her understand how any joy becomes washed away by a deep ache which has become all too familiar. “There is no one to share with…no one who would truly understand and appreciate the story of our life together. The children? They enjoy hearing the old stories…particularly the parts which pertain to them directly. But it is the lost moments which never get returned to me in these conversations…the lost moments which only you can share and help me remember that which I have forgotten. The pain of that loss grows by the day until I find that I actually resent what were those special times, When one of them enters my mind I do the best I can to make it stop and flee to the encouragement of my cursing! I have tried, but I cannot live our life together alone any longer…or I fear that I will go mad in the attempt!”
I found that I was kneeling before the apparition which was my beautiful Robyn…the one who would shortly return to the realm of the dead and leave me alone with dreams which had become nightmares.
Once again I could feel the comforting touch of her hand upon me; but even this became more than I could stand. For soon I was to discover how losing the love of your life for the second time would stack up against the pain of the first time.
I did not anticipate handling that very well!
She remained quiet for some time, her focus upon the trembling man who had always been so strong for her and could find a way to eventually make all things right. Wondering just what she could be thinking about me now—and wishing that I was able to read her thoughts as she could mine so as to know if the love which I felt flowing into my mind and filling the empty spaces of my heart was real or just simple pity—I was astonished by what the voice speaking within my head had just said. Had I really heard that I needn’t be alone any longer?
“I’ll say it outright if that makes it any clearer” reminded me of that unfair advantage of hers as she reiterated once again how I did not need to be alone from now on.
“If you are referring to one of those dating sites, I became desperate enough to try one,” I admitted.
“And how well did that turn out?” I heard her question with more than a touch of jealousy on her voice.
“Initially, once I got over feeling like I was cheating on you, I thought fairly well,” I freely admitted. “But then, I received a text saying that she could never see me again—no reason given—just that we were through.”
“I’d say you were getting along more than ‘fairly well’ as you two ended up in bed on your third date!”
I had forgotten the part where she said that she had been keeping an eye on me from afar!
“She didn’t fair nearly as well as you did just now when I showed up one evening at her place looking like my mother!” she admitted.
“That certainly would explain her sudden move to Montana,” I said with a chuckle…which had soon grown into hearty laughter from the both of us. What a wonderfully-shared moment! And precisely what I had been missing so deeply.
For the longest time we remained not moving; just reveling in the reunion of two kindred spirits melding into one again. To know that I was about to lose this bliss once again grew upon my mind until I found myself shutting off those emotions in a purely self-defense mode.
“Why did you do that?” I was asked. I could hear the disappointment within her voice as obviously she had been enjoying so precious a moment as had I.
“Because you will be leaving soon!” I told her with a heavy heart.
“Yes, John…I will; I have no choice,” she declared, the bitterness in the situation shared by us both. “But…that doesn’t mean I can’t come back,” she said, followed by silence as if she were waiting to see how I would react.
“But…but how could that be?” I asked while holding my breath for her answer.
“It could start by your breathing, or this concept could become a moot point!” she ‘suggested’. “I know that you have no idea of how the spirit world exists, so allow me to explain. You see, as we no longer have physical form nor can we enjoy the world of sensation, it is the spiritual aspect of things which we respond to. One aspect of this is emotions…which may sound hard to believe at first but is true none the less. The stories you hear or watch on TV about hauntings can be very real; these are the angry spirits who have not yet advanced beyond the basest of emotions. As for our situation, is not love the strongest and most noble of emotions? So if some ticked-off dude from the sixteenth century shows up from time to time in some dank old castle, why not me here?” she asked.
“Yes, but how often could you be here, and for how long?” I had to ask, intrigued by the notion that we could actually be together again…literally speaking.
“I could keep an eye on you in order to discover when an opportune moment to return would be required for your peace of mind,” she suggested. “And before you ask the question I can read forming within your mind, yes it would be for my own as well!” she admitted reluctantly.
“My Love, that would be the answer to my prayers!” I gushed.
“Yes, I know. Okay…okay; I will refrain from the ‘mind-reading’ thing if it bothers you that much,” she promised—but only after reading my mind to know what I was thinking and feeling.
“So that means I could actually lie to you?” I asked, trying to get an idea of what the parameters of this ‘interworld relationship’ would actually constitute.
“You can try; but you never were very good at it when we were together before. So don’t mistake simple female intuition with knowing your thoughts…although quite often they turn out to both be the same!”
My mind was racing with all kinds of possibilities. The first one I mentioned was how often could I anticipate her return?
“I don’t know,” she answered, just a bit frustrated by not being able to give me a solid answer. “Perhaps twice a week…maybe even more. And before you say the inevitable “I’m going to miss you so much when you’re gone how will I cope?” thing, I brought a friend to keep you company while I’m gone.
Before I could delve into the nature of this ‘friend’ aspect, I experienced yet another touch I had sorely missed as I could feel my hand being licked in an old familiar way. Gazing into the visage of my dearly departed (for now) wife, I could see a smile come to her face. She had brought ‘Little Bit’ with her! My old dog who had passed some six years ago and who I sorely missed to this day had ceased licking my hand and proceeded to attack my face with a relish! When I commented on how I wish I could let her know how happy I was to see her, I was told that while I would be unable to perform the act physically, to hug her none the less. “Believe me, she will know“ I was assured.
“Does that work for spirit wives as well?” I asked hopefully.
“Even better!” she answered as she rose from her chair and for the longest time proved her words to be true.
“But now I must leave,” she announced while keeping her tone upbeat and positive (but for whose benefit this was I was unsure). “I will return soon; and I promise not to scare or startle you when I do…unless it is climbing into bed next to you in the middle of the night while you sleep,” she said with a laugh. “So you can put away the flashlights, and I won’t tell you goodbye; but rather I will see you soon.
And then she was gone.
There were so many questions I needed to ask; but then, I guess I would have plenty of time for her to answer them.
The one at the forefront of my mind at the moment was…do ghost dogs have to be taken outside to do their ‘business’?