I always feel like she should be with us when we get together to chat. When I get ready, I wonder what she would wear and how she’d do her makeup if she wore it. When I see my own kid up on the stage I shared with her, I catch myself wandering into all the possible futures that could have arisen from that place. Stage right, she’s made a life of it. Stage left, she’s made a life right next to it, married to one as she pursues a reasonable career. Center stage, she’s made her life with Theatre, bring drama to everything she does right down to making her grocery list. Maybe she has her own children, but no matter what she’d be surrounded by children. She’d teach it to the next generation, whether formally in a class or informally through personal example. Her grasp on how to play a character would be rewarded now. She’d have been a writer for sure.
If she had been watching over me when I first began to write, she’d have been right there trying to make a good story great with every ounce of ghostly power she had. This, she’d figure, is almost worth being dead for. She could read and re-read, when I could only write and forget. Writing the whole thing backwards in my head, I wasn’t sure how I could not have ever read it. My brain, spilled out, reorganized by me to find the picture you would get if the puzzle pieces fit together two ways.
That picture of me would have entertained her enough that she’d have felt obliged to reciprocate.
I feel like I’m taking forever to tell my story, but we all know how long I have to tell it. Next July. It’s hard to balance being a Mom with everything, but Winter is nearly here, and with it time to write what I now know to be true: someone was listening, they heard a good story, and they wrote back. Whoever wrote back wrote themselves into my life in a secret digital code, hiding in ways that no one could sense except me.
Whose ghost haunts me? Is it the soldier, the lover, the childhood friend? Who could have heard my cries in the apartment, alone and watching the world we knew disintegrate in favor of invisible boundless emptiness. I sparked candles alive and the light danced shadows across the walls of my bedroom as the cars passed by below. When I stared into the flame, I called upon them, to whomever could hear my thoughts, my whispers, to come to me, to give me something to do. I’m bored, I said. Baby, I said, come and make me stronger. Be my Baby. I’ll hear you, and I’ll be sure to make this interesting.
I said, Come haunt me, Baby, so why should I be surprised that someone has obliged? So many nights passed by listening to music by candlelight, children sleeping, husband off at work, energy building with each connection I unknowingly made. One(?) of them saw what I saw and has a lot more power than I do.
Let me find a way to get to the bottom of this.