Are our loved ones communicating with us from the other side? What are they saying? What do we need them to say?
With Mike, I don’t need much. Sometimes, it’s because I am angry. I don’t reassurance that he is watching over me or sending us love. I just want him here with us, alive. I wish that was a choice. Other times, I just worry about him, and wonder what happened to his beautiful soul. I feel relieved because I already know he is in less pain, hopefully no pain, by definition of having left his body and this life, or at least that mind at that time in that body in this life.
But mostly, I miss him so much and I see signs of him everywhere. I am a skeptic, so I assume I am making these up. But some of them really stick with me. Mike was a man of words, poetic ones. So it makes sense that he tends to show up in words. Like music lyrics. Once, I was driving home from Red Rocks on Father’s Day, the first one after his death, and I had my music on shuffle. I don’t listen to any of those music apps, I like to buy music and a lot of it. I have a pretty huge collection of music on my phone. Sometimes when I don’t know what to play I just shuffle through the songs and it’s quite a crapshoot. That night, on the way home in a torrential rain storm, 9 or 10 songs played in a row, each one an uncanny memory and a specific message from Mike. Let’s just say, if he were trying to reach me, these are the exact songs he would play.
Months after Mike died, I finally got the courage to turn a city corner towards what had been our favorite museum, one that we loved so much that our kids basically grew up there… soaking in events on the rooftop lounge and mastering the vast elevators and nooks as if it was their own castle. This is what I saw:
I actually laughed, it was so ridiculously obvious or at least ridiculously apropos.
The first Halloween we navigated without Mike was practically unbearable. I would say it was totally unbearable but apparently, life did go on. The kids and I sat in a parking lot at one of those pop-up Halloween stores, and I didn’t think I’d be able to go in. After all, this was Mike’s THING. Like, I had not even been in one of these stores because Mike did this every year. He lived for Halloween. He was always trying to bring home more holiday stuff. Often second-hand Halloween decorations (and Christmas decorations, any decorations). He liked to give peoples’ old decorations new homes, I think he actually felt sorry for them. Honestly, I hated most of that stuff. The plastic, the clutter. I never liked Halloween, either. Anyway, it was hard. I felt paralyzed. I wasn't sure I could go in. Then my most stoic child said, “You got this. We got this.” And we went in.
It became my mantra and our family motto.
This summer, we finally returned to what had been another very special family place. We had a lot of these… we tried to create rituals and meaning with the kids by making them feel at home at a few great places and returning to these places time and time again. This is so hard to reflect on, because it means 1. Mike went out of his way to design amazing experiences for his beautiful daughters, then he just left (I guess this one is obvious, but it still just stuns me every time) and 2. now I have to figure out what to do about all these awesome places that the kids call home. Meaning, I have to get up the guts to take them back there. To reclaim these beautiful places and even the memories.
So, I got up the guts to take them to our favorite hot spring (that’s saying a lot to pick a favorite, we basically travel by hot spring… especially with little kids, it’s the best). Again, it was hard. We brought friends. It was special and worth it. One morning, I went to one of the revered pools and looked around and saw this new sign installed on the wall:
Later that same day, I went to a nearby town for some marshmallows. There is one co-op in this one-street town that indeed housed organic marshmallows, strange animal products, and this rack of greeting cards:
I’ll take the signs when I can get them. Halloween is right around the corner. Again.