I wrote about bats in my last post, and how Bat symbolizes death and rebirth. I had no anticipation of it foreboding something as literal as my son’s death. But Bat told true. Chris died, and we are embarking upon discovering a life without him in it, physically. I know my son is with me, now and always. He’s free of all the chaos in that beautiful head of his. And his gentle heart can love without conflict. No more pain in his leg, his foot, in his mind. Free, free, free. That is the word that keeps echoing through my brain.
I am not a religious person. I don’t believe in God or the Devil, in Heaven or Hell. Modesty may be for suckers, but I am not arrogant enough to believe I’m capable of understanding the universe and all its secrets. But there is a reason I write ghost stories, and in each of them is another facet of what might be, some facet I hold in the possibility of true. There is no one afterlife, just like there is no one existence in this physical realm. Maybe because I’m a writer, someone who doesn’t believe in one truth, I am open to those possibilities. I choose to notice, to find meaning, and to take comfort from little signs I get that he’s near.
Last week, my amazing friend, Diana showed up. She lives outside of Philadelphia, three hours away. Such love, all that way when she couldn’t even stay. She handed me a book and told me, “Before I left my house, I said, ‘Christofer, if I have something in my home that’s going to give your mother comfort, show me.’ ” Her eyes went immediately to a book–A Year with Rilke. Ok, strange. But whatever. She opened it up directly to this poem:
The Departure of the Prodigal Son
To go forth now
from all the entanglement
that is ours and yet not ours,
that, like the water in an old well,
reflects us in fragments, distorts what we are.
From all that clings like burrs and brambles—
to go forth
and see for once, close up, afresh,
what we had ceased to see—
so familiar it had become.
To glimpse how vast and how impersonal
is the suffering that filled your childhood.
Yes, to go forth, hand pulling away from hand.
Go forth to what? To uncertainty,
to a country with no connections to us
and indifferent to the dramas of our life.
What drives you to go forth? Impatience, instinct,
a dark need, the incapacity to understand.
To bow to all this.
To let go—
even if you have to die alone.
Is this the start of a new life?
Coincidence? Maybe. I choose to believe it was my son fulfilling the loving request of my friend. There have been so many strange little things that I could put off as coincidence, or me wanting to see something to give me comfort. To that I say, so be it.