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It was the end of me but strangely too, the beginning of my story. As people stood around me, the mist lay low encircling their feet, but it did not lie as low as me.
I had tried to make them see me but they could not. So here I am trapped down here in the cold, cold box of warm wood that does not warm me. How I yearn for a very strong whiskey delivered in a china cup by a wee loved woman to heat my body. Sadly, she is long gone and I am here.
If I can make the sun shine brightly and spread its warmth through your bones would you linger a little longer? “Do not leave me,” I sob. For I feel myself fading from your world with every passing second as the priest with his prayers banishes me to some sacred, beautiful place I have yet to see.
I do not see a light at the end of a tunnel. I do not feel contentment. I do not really understand. I remember the pain I endured. Such terrible pain that throbbed and flowed and consumed my bones. I cried for it to stop. The drugs had stopped working and I begged you... you… who are you?
It is hard to focus when I am dissolving, with a little pain remaining, a headache, a frustration, or is it the seeping cold disabling? Your name flutters like a butterfly teasing me, but I cannot catch you. I can see your outline and your shoes. Stout brown lace ups as they fade in and out of the mist, but they remain still and untouchable. If there was a breeze I may catch your calming scent. Strange, how I do not remember your name but I remember how I would hold your shirts to my face and breathe you in so as to hold you forever. Then you could never leave me.
Now it seems that I am leaving you. Who would have thought? And so it gets colder here and your feet become restless as they shuffle the mist between your ankles. The priest becomes silent and I feel a thump on my chest as lilies descend upon me and I remember the bouquet you bought me for our anniversary, the pure white petal and overwhelming perfume. I remember I loved them. Oh, if today you could put them gently in my hand or ask me to close my eyes telling me that you have a surprise for me I would be with you now.
I hear a tear drop and feel the sadness around me and then I see the heels of shoes as they turn away and fade into the mist.
I am tired now and feel my eyes closing in anticipation of a long rest coming, when I hear in the distance my name being called. No, not called. I can hear a conversation in which my name is said. My spirit is drawn to follow the sound and tells me to open my eyes because now is not the time to rest.
It seems I am still curious and stubborn as I travel towards conversations through the dark and mists to bright light and heat, such heat. I berate my tiredness “leave me alone, let me see, let me feel… Him.” He is talking in sorrow about me. Every time he says my name, vibrations run through my body. I have to concentrate. I recognise the giant sized woman behind him, smiling in the sun, warm and happy. He looks towards her and says he is walking in her memory to help the charity that supported her in the last months of her life.
Her memory, my memory, he remembers me.
This is how my story begins. I, the dead, offer hope to the living through him. He tells my story to charities, to individuals and groups. I feel the sadness and love and hope for a better future for people like the person I used to be.
I am alive somewhere teasingly not here, not there, just somewhere. Following or being dragged along by the invisible umbilical cord of this new life. Every night he says my name and I can only look at him and remember a kiss, his kiss. My memories are more feelings than facts. So I can remember feeling happy in his arms, angry when he was late, afraid when the doctor gave me the news and thankful for his care. So here I am alive in our house, now his house. I am invisible and I share his loneliness.
It occurs to me now that I need to leave him. I feel as though I am the knife twisting an open wound. I am the cause of his hurt. I feel the double pain of my loneliness and his grief. Oh, I am selfish. I cannot bear this. So why should he?
Jake sits every night watching me, dolefully purring as he keeps his distance. “Tell him,” I plead, “he needs to let me go.” Jake curls up at his master’s feet and goes to sleep.
Time passes slowly in this world of his and mine. Routine becomes a way of life. My name whispered in the night and revered during the day. I was brave? Really?
Then in a moment, somewhere in time, I feel open air and a clean breeze on my shivering spirit. I remember suddenly the salty smells of the sea, the crunch under our booted feet of pebbles and crispy seaweed. I can see miles of open space offering no shelter, a both peaceful and frightening exposure. In this wild place, I find him sitting, looking out to sea, rubbing a smooth blue pebble in his hands. He looks up and I think for the first time he can see me as he offers me the stone but then he puts it in his pocket and he shouts “Why?” I speak to him of the good things he has done since I died. I try desperately to console him. Suddenly like the waves on the sea, he is washed by his tears and in rolling sobs, they fall. I can feel the great release of his sadness and anger as his body unburdens the sorrow he has carried for all this time.
As he walks away towards the sand dunes, I feel for the first time that I am drifting and losing substance. The ties that have held me are disintegrating. I feel such sadness as I lose him in the sand and eventually he disappears. I turn towards the sea and remember the day we spent here walking and exploring this beautiful beach, making promises to each other that we thought would last to the end of time.
My heart is yours always. You have set my spirit free. Now your heart is free.