“No, no, no! Undo it!” My husband raised his voice, drastically gesturing with his hands. “What if you say something that makes it worse?”
My eyes burned with tears and my heart pounded. I leaned heavily into the countertop hoping it would hold me up when all I wanted to do was fall to my knees.
“I-I,” I tried to think of what to say in order to explain the deep need I felt to share with my newly widowed neighbor what I was hearing her husband say but had no proof that I would not in fact make it worse. “Well I don’t think I can get out of it now.” was all that I could manage.
“But what are you going to say?” he asked, his brow deeply furrowed.
My breath became more shallow as he posed the question I had no way of answering. My mind berated me for agreeing to deliver such dire information with zero context. “I don’t know,” I replied truthfully, trying to figure out if I had heard or seen anything of value to share besides how he had passed.
“Well don’t go making up things you can’t take back,” he barked, marching out of the room.
“I’m not making it up,” I called quietly, trying to convince myself more than him. But seriously what am I going to say?
I contemplated getting back in the shower, the first spot I had heard and seen Dave’s messages, but felt silly standing in the running water hoping for something to appear. I went to bed with a tightness in my chest that I couldn’t shake, finding myself already awake each time my baby cried out for me in the night.
By morning I still had no idea what I was going to say and with the clock ticking down I knew I had to do something. As I laid my daughter down for her nap, it hit me.
“Write!” I heard as though it was my own thought and yet outside of me at the same time.
Grabbing a notebook and a pen, I closed my eyes and welcomed Dave’s soul to step forward, sharing with him that I was heading to see his wife and daughter and asked what I could tell them.
An image of waves appeared as though floating just above my eye line. As I wrote “ocean” the image shifted to a barbed wire tattoo wrapped around a bicep then shifted again to a pillow thudding to the ground. I wrote down a couple words each time something new came forward without any idea if what I had written made any sense.
With a small piece of journal paper filled out front and back I sat sprawled on the floor in silence, flopping my head back onto the soft seat of the sofa. What am I doing? I asked myself, my forehead lined with fear.
My daughter's cries broke the silence as my eyes met the time displayed on the microwave…time to go next door. Taking a deep breath, I scooped her out of her crib into my arms, slid into my sandals, grabbed the notebook and pen for good measure and before I could talk myself out of it, marched across the driveway, sweat trickling down my armpits, mouth dry.
I knocked on their front door, asking this invisible force to help guide me now more than ever. Tear stained faces welcomed me into their home as they cooed over my daughter and invited me to sit at the kitchen counter, their nervousness as palpable as mine. After a few minutes of condolences and small talk I opened my notebook. “I just wrote down a few things,” I said, focusing solely on the paper, unable to meet their gaze.
I began with the ocean, having zero idea or explanation besides the word I had written.
“We just said this morning that we want to spread his ashes in the ocean,” his wife shared, her brown eyes brimming with tears. “That feels like he’s agreeing,” she continued, nodding to her young daughter who allowed a brief smile to cross her lips.
“What else?” she asked as she peered over my shoulder at the list I was embarrassed to reveal.
My cheeks reddened as we looked over the random words littered across the page. The next few registering zero acknowledgment from either of them, making my throat uncomfortably stiff as I pushed myself to continue reading, sharing about the tattoo. They assured me that he didn’t have any and couldn’t place the one I had envisioned.
“Maybe he wants us to get tattoos?” his wife guessed and I shrugged slightly, adjusting my daughter in my lap.
“Okay, the pillow,” I said, eager to move to the part of the list I had marked as signs. “I keep seeing a pillow.”
“Oh my God,” his wife replied, her daughter’s matching eyes wide. “Last night I leaned his pillow against the side of the bed. Just as we had settled down, something shook the entire bed! It scared us so I jumped up to look and the only explanation was that his pillow had fallen over but it seemed impossible for it to make such a huge impact..”
Grateful for an image that resonated, I sighed, relief flooded over me, relaxing my shoulders and jaw, as I blurted out, “Yup that was him.”
How do you know that? My mind shouted at me, questioning how I could speak to something I clearly knew nothing about.
And yet a calmness continued to rise within as I continued, “There’s also something about flashing lights.”
“Hmm,” his wife replied, biting her lower lip. “Nothing that I can think of, but the fan turned on in the bathroom when I was pooping and I did think it could be him being funny.”
I laughed right along with them, finding comfort in the small moments of joy amidst the deep sadness and continued, “Yes, it feels like he’s very active. Pay attention to the lights, you may see those flicker too.”
Again my mind chanted, what are you doing? You do NOT know that. And yet, there was another part of me that did.
As we reached the end of the list, I ripped the page out of my notebook and handed it to her, hoping I had been more helpful than harmful in what I had shared. She thanked me and hugged me hard as the front door opened and her mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law walked in. She quickly rattled off what I had shared. They wanted to know more, asking for specific details. My throat tightened as my escape plan slowly crumbled as my audience grew.
Running through a few things I had already shared, I mentioned the tattoo again.
“Wait, is it this tattoo?” his wife asked, lifting up the sleeve on her brother-in-law’s shirt, the same barbed wire tattoo etched around his wide bicep that has been in my vision…
To be continued in my newsletter- snag yours here!