Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Ghosts We Believe In

My mother (on the right) and her siblings, 2004. Uncle E. is next to Mom.

I don't believe in ghosts. Really, I don't.

Things that go bump in the night are usually the creaky old House settling a little more deeply into the Corner, or precariously-balanced leftovers slipping when the refrigerator kicks on. The cool spot I walk through is the shadow of a tree or a breeze so subtle it only moves across my skin.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it, except...

Today is my mother's birthday. I know you're bored with me talking about my mother, and how wonderful she was and how she could fix broken me with a hug. How she was kind and smart and funny until she was beginning to be confused and tentative, and that's when she died after a fall, six years ago and a hundred years ago.

In those hundred years that have marked our new reality without Mom, I have thought about her every single day.

Every. Single. Day.

I'm 61 years old, and I still have not gone a day without thinking of how Mom would have reacted in a situation, or how she would have treated a laundry stain, or what words she would have used to show kindness, or how delighted she would have been with a grandchild's achievement. I find myself asking her questions and "hearing" her answers.

She is the ghost I believe in.

Today we have waiting for a difficult phone call. My mother's beloved older brother, her smart, funny, kind sibling, has been fighting pneumonia. We heard from my cousin last night that there was (as she put it) "no trajectory of recovery," and just now, in this very moment, I got a text from Much Older Sister:

"Uncle E. died about 8:45 this morning. Can you imagine how great it was that Mom was there to welcome him?"

I hope my cousins know that they will never forget their father. This, now, is the new trajectory of their lives, where their beloved one won't be laughing at their jokes in person but they can be assured he'll be laughing with them.

He can be the ghost they believe in.

But all the same, for my mom and for my uncle, I am weeping uncontrollably.


  1. Those are such beautiful words. I'm so sorry.

  2. Oh I can so understand. So so hard to lose those we love. My mom passed away almost four years ago and today, while walking down the street after an appointment, I saw a flower bed filled with blooming vinca. I thought of her because she loved vinca and taught me the names of so many plants and flowers. And I had such a wave of missing her.