My husband died a few weeks after my son turned 4 years old. An aggressive form of stomach cancer consumed him in a matter of months. I didn’t know a person could die that quickly from cancer. They can. Less than a year later, I became estranged from my dearest friend – a sister really. It felt like another massive blow to the gut. My world caved in and I felt abandoned, adrift and totally alone.
When the Thanksgiving holiday came around soon after, I felt too vulnerable to put up a good front and too proud to be a wet blanket around family and friends. So I packed up my young son and escaped to a nearby beach resort area. It was quiet and deserted in the off season and matched my mood perfectly.
When my son came down with a fever on Saturday, I knew we had to leave. It was while packing the car that I discovered it. My husband had the habit of eating white pistachio nuts while driving. He would throw the shells on the floor next to him and then, when he stopped, he would sweep the shells out onto the parking area wherever he was. That Saturday morning, as I packed to return to the life I wanted to run away from, right on the ground beside the front door of my car, was a pile of white pistachio shells. It stopped me in my tracks. I took it as a sign that this deserted landscape of my life was perhaps inhabited in ways I could not fathom.
Last week I spoke with a co-worker whose husband died 10 months ago. She recounted an experience she’d had recently. She was sitting at a computer doing some mindless task when she was jolted by a memory of her husband. They were on a cruise relaxing and sunning themselves on lounge chairs when he reached out his hand, and without a word, touched her gently. It was a gesture filled with his love and the memory was so intense that she said it would have knocked her over had see been standing. It felt so real, so present, so close. She told me that she and her daughter now have plans to attend a session with John Edwards, the psychic medium, in the hopes of getting a message from her husband.
As I looked into her bereft eyes, I wondered about her memory of touch and my pile of pistachio shells from years ago. Could these be messages – some form of communication? A glimpse of possibilities so far removed from our reality. It is all a matter of belief. And believing is, after all, a choice. I guess, I choose to believe.
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