I let in a ghost last night. I didn’t mean to. Rousted by a general disturbance amongst the furry population of my house, I stumbled to the patio door in a sleepy grump. That’s when it slipped in around me, the shadow of a shadow, a sort of manta ray shaped blackness. I thought for a moment my black cat changed his mind about going out but no, he crouched nearby outside, basking in the glow of the blue Christmas tree lights still wrapped around the myrtle tree out back. A sliver moon reflected a weird glow against low clouds, and I dismissed the ghost to the category of optical illusion.
It wasn’t until I was crawling back under the covers that I recalled the date; February 13th. Valentine’s Day Eve. And then I knew what, or who, that ghost was.
The past week has been so busy with the release of my first eBook, and the finishing of the monster project I’ve been up to my eyeballs in for the past year, that I’d forgotten to freak out about the impending anniversary of my partner’s suicide. I knew it was coming, but I’d sublimated it, so gratefully overwhelmed by the present that the past had to wait its turn, lurking in the shadows as the past so often does, waiting for a soft moment, an easement in the clattering traffic of the head. Those moments often come at night, when the defenses drop. That’s when the ghosts slip in.
Perversely, in the light of day, the ghost became more real to me, took on a certainty I’d been able to banish by moonlight. This shadow’s shadow, this wing beat from the other side, struck me suddenly as the sliver that remains of Michael’s consciousness. I’ve never sensed the slightest trace of him since he took his life sometime in the wee hours of Valentine’s Day, 2010. He flew the coop. Vamoosed. So why return now, three years later?
I saw a ghost only once before. Here, in this house, coming in through the same patio doors. I didn’t know who it was at the time, but when Michael returned from work that day he told me his friend Joe had killed himself the night before. I knew then that Joe had visited us on his way out of town. I didn’t know why he’d picked our house, and now I wonder if it was a premonition, or a warning, or the call of a kindred soul across the divide of death.
Where are they going, the lost souls? I don’t know, but I like to think that Michael’s sprit is finally light enough to roam free, released from whatever hell it’s been trapped in, was trapped in even while he still lived. I imagine that this essential essence of the man is touring the places he once knew, no more than that. Maybe it’s a final good-bye.
I choose to take it as positive sign, even as I sit here burning white candles, both more and less alone than I’d like to be. It’s a good thing, this movement, this traveling of the soul. This searching for the light, for escape velocity. It’s time for both of us to move on.
To all the lost souls roaming the earth tonight, embodied or not, I wish you God speed in your search for peace.
I live my life in growing orbits
Which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
But that will be my attempt.
I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
And I have been circling for a thousand years,
And I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm,
Or a great song.