This is a true story. November 16th would have been his 51st birthday.
He called to say good bye. He didn’t use a phone. He was already dead, but I wouldn’t find that out for another two days.
We married young, really young, probably too young. His mother said we were playing house. My mother just sighed heavily, and often.
We bought an old house to restore. We partied like mad things in between DIY renovations. When the house was finished, so was I.
It was time to grow up—for me anyway. The same didn’t hold for him.
He didn’t want me to leave. He couldn’t believe that I would, given the constant state of self indulgent revelry in which we were living—nirvana to him. He didn’t understand my need for change. He wanted everything to remain the same forever. A bit of the Peter Pan syndrome I suppose.
I needed more. I needed to see more, to do more, to be more. Simply, I needed to grow up. He was happy right where he was and I knew it would stay that way for a good long time.
We were married less than five years and divorced more than three times that. I am infinitely better suited to my new life but I can honestly say I’ve never regretted a moment of that time. If I had stayed however, I knew my feelings on the matter would have changed.
I dreamt about him on a Monday night early this past spring. It wasn’t an unusual occurrence. I had after all spent a large chunk of my youth with him. They were always happy dreams. This one was no different. He was coming to greet me. It was awkward, but in my dream we both laughed about it.
I dreamt about him again the next night. This one was more disturbing. In the dream I received an email from him. In the note he told me that he was dying. It made me edgy, but daily life interrupted my anxiety and I pushed the distressing thoughts aside.
By Wednesday of the same week, a dear friend called to tell me that my ex had been killed in a tragic accident the previous Sunday. Twenty-four hours prior to my first dream.
Initially I thought that he had come to say good bye. It’s what we always say isn’t it? We believe it and then we let it go. I think that answer might be too easy. I know it’s too trite! So I decided to look for another possible reason why my ex husband had made a rather less than subtle attempt to be in touch with me after he had died.
￼I began scouring the internet for experts. I hoped to find someone other than the obvious psychics or mediums who are not surprisingly prominently displayed. I was looking for someone who wasn’t trying to sell their services or abilities to make contact with the other side. I obviously didn’t need that sort of help. I was perfectly capable of that task all by myself. I wanted to find someone who might help explain why or perhaps how this had happened.
I found two such people claiming experience with otherworldly connections. The first of whom, R.Craig Hogan, PhD, was a most helpful gentleman. He enthusiastically answered my unenlightened questions.
It is his belief that in the first few months after someone passes they attempt to be in touch with some regularity. It is only when they are unable to get through, to make contact, that they give up. So it is our ability, our openness which enables the communication to occur.
Dr. Hogan believes that we are able to fine tune our ability to reach those we have lost. His theory goes one step further to suggest that we can in fact sustain the communication and enjoy ongoing relationships with them.
The material he encouraged me to read was extensive and although much of it was surprisingly believable, I can’t get past the disturbing notion of continued contact. How could that possibly be helpful to anyone, alive or dead? I wonder for example, how a mother who has lost a child might adequately be able to parent any remaining children if she is maintaining a relationship with the one who has died? I wonder how a man might find another person to share his life if he were still in regular contact with his now deceased lover? Do we not all have trifling worries when our partner remains in touch with a previous lover who is alive? How can we possibly be okay with one who is dead?
I don’t claim to be any sort of relationship expert, but somehow it doesn’t seem right. Perhaps my lack of spiritual faith is limiting my ability to see it as anything other than simply spooky. Being haunted is not something to which I aspire.
Adam Crabtree, another psycho therapist who agreed to my interview request is a one time Catholic priest and Benedictine monk. He has what I believe to be a more plausible and simple explanation.
In one of a series of lectures on immortality, Crabtree suggests that our deceased loved ones reach out to us simply because they don’t know they’re dead.
Did my ex come to my dreams to say good bye? Did he come to forgive me for what I know he saw as abandoning him so long ago? Was it merely a strange string of coincidences? I suppose I’ll never know but I do know what I will choose to believe, regardless of how narcissistic it may seem. I will believe that my ex husband came to me in hopes of my being able to give him an unpleasant truth. A displeasing, yet necessary honesty as I once had given him so long ago.
I am left with one final question to which I know I may never have an answer. Was it my mind or his that finally allowed him to hear the truth of his predicament?