Yesterday was a dead friend’s birthday.
On Facebook, someone wrote that they missed seeing her and wished she would come back soon. I wondered if they didn’t know she died over two years ago, maybe thought she’d gone on an extended trip around the world, moved to Nebraska for a bit. Or did they know she was dead and were hoping for her ghost to appear or for her spirit to embed itself in someone new, a stranger from another place who would be immediately recognizable to us because of her peaceful smile and great patience with flawed people.
I know people who describe having been visited by their dead spouse or mother. They had conversations that set unresolved things right and provided the living person with great comfort and hopefulness. This happened in dreams so real they could see and hear and touch the person who was gone. Or it happened with pennies found on the sidewalk or cardinals perched in a backyard bush.
I believe all of these things but none has ever happened to me. I remember only perhaps one dream a year. I see pennies and pick them up. The cardinal comes because I put out food for him.
I like to think that the lack of these ethereal visits and signs from beyond are because each of the important relationships in my life – my mother, father, and brother, friends – were settled at the end.
“It’s alright. You had a long way to come.”
“Take it easy and stay in touch.”
“I love you.”
“You are a good friend.”
The alternative explanation is that I am spiritually shallow. I live so utterly in the here and now, the wound of a death or departure closes with the balm of a new day offering itself. Then again, perhaps the people most likely to spark my spiritual awareness haven’t yet died. The ones that have were just warm-ups, simple business.That is a forbidding and large thought.
These are things one thinks about on a sunny day on Lake Superior, sitting just out of the wind with a cup of green tea and a beloved dog who senses that a run on the beach is next.