Monday, November 30, 2009

Conversations With The Dead, Part I

Grief counselors suggest many exercises to help ease the pain of losing a loved one. Unfortunately, I have found that some of these activities do not always help. For example, a grief counselor told me it would ease my pain if I wrote a note, tied it to a balloon and released the balloon into the air. It’s supposed to be a sort of symbolic gesture, an imagining that the dead person reaches out with ghostly hands to grasp your words of love (or something like that). I can’t do it, though. All I can think of is that some bird is going to end up dead because they ate my balloon, then they will fall through the sky, get sucked into an airplane engine and cause a plane crash. Too much imagination can be very self defeating.

Instead, I tried to just write the note. I started with a letter to my mother because that seemed like the easiest thing to do. I wasn’t entirely sure what to say to her, but maybe that doesn’t matter too much. I believe that there are spirits in the wires, so I think that sending this out into the internet is a much more effective (and safer) means of communication. I just hope she checks her inbox.

Dear Mom,

As you probably know, I think of you every day. I think you know this because I talk to you and I swear there are times I can hear your answer (even when it’s not what I want to hear). Lately, however, your voice has been getting fainter. I have a feeling that’s because Dad is keeping you busy out there.

There is a woman who lives in a retirement home in Newport News that looks like you. She probably thinks I’m crazy, because as soon as I look at her I can’t stop staring and then my eyes tear up and then I look like an idiot. Hopefully she’s used to crazy people and doesn’t report me for excessive displays of emotion or anything (remember, we’re in the South now, and excessive displays of emotion are not well tolerated here. I suppose they would be more tolerated if one carried the label of ‘eccentric’, but let’s be honest, I just don’t have enough money for that. My income bracket falls squarely in the ‘just plain crazy’ category.). I have learned to avoid her, and not look directly at her. I think this works best for both of us.

Your grandson is getting bigger and still talks about you. I do everything I can to keep your memory alive for him, and he remembers the good times he got to share with you. Thank you for visiting him after you died, I know it was a great source of comfort to him, even though he still won’t tell me what you said because you told him not to tell me. That, of course, is how I knew you truly did visit him.

Your son is doing okay. He’s still not married, and I have recently explained to him the wisdom of finding a woman who already has children. At this point, it would be so much easier to just call and let me know I am an aunt to a ten year old. It would also be good for him to avoid the whole middle-of-the-night-feeding-thing, you know how grumpy he gets when he’s tired. I fear this may be a lost cause, however, so I may have to start answering personal ads for him.

Your friends are lost without you and miss you terribly. I think everyone still has a sense of bewilderment that you left as we continue to sort through our emotions. We had no idea you were going to die, and you never once let on that it was imminent. I’m still not sure how I feel about that, I suppose it was your choice and I have to respect it. I think you may have heard lots more interesting things if you had let us all in on the secret, though. Just imagine what people would have told you if they knew you were on your way out. It also would have made your last instructions much easier. I got most of what you were trying to tell me on the night you died, but there was that one little thing I could not understand… something about taking a pillow, or maybe swallowing a pill, or maybe cutting a willow… whatever it was, it never got done. I just hope it wasn’t too important.

Well, I don’t think I need to go into any details about what’s going on here, I have a feeling you already know most of that. We appreciate you looking in on us and appearing in our dreams now and then. I hope things are well on the other side for you, and you are enjoying your new form.

We love you and miss you,
Your daughter,