It does happen. Just last night one of my late dearest visited me several times. We sat and spoke like nothing ever happened. Like cancer never existed. That was all forgotten. She was with me. It was real right up to those final minutes when it occurred to me that it was all a dream. Still no cancer though and when I woke up I reached for the phone to text her and that's when it all came back.
Jane was on the quilt next to the bed, immersed in her own dream and it didn't sound like a good one. Perhaps ghosts had come to her bedside as well. Just maybe when she woke up she realized also that she never grieved properly and hence never found peace with it.
It's still one of the most profound moments of my spotted, sordid life. We weren't lovers. It wasn't like that at all. What were we?
We were friends.
It was a gift to share those most vulnerable moments, from the diagnosis, through the first treatments and losing the hair and the fear and frustration. It was a gift from her to me. How does one come to entrust another person with those moments? Where do you begin to choose the people to travel that road with you? That's still somewhat of a mystery to me. It feels right, I suppose, and then you may still be wrong. Hit or miss maybe. I just don't know. She said she came to me because she trusted that I wouldn't infantilize her, and because I wouldn't lie to her or "spout pollyanna bullshit." She said she trusted that I could just sit in the feelings with her and just "be."
I suppose that's just what I did and mostly it was because I didn't have any words that sounded true. I thought hard about what to say and repeated lines over and over in my head and they all came up short of truth. The fact was that I was selfishly afraid for me and my impending loss. We sat together and gave it over to forces in The Universe greater than ourselves, and we went shopping and bought wigs and drank beer and Ensure. We watched comedy shows and listened to music and read from a stack of New York Times best seller list selections. We held onto each other and didn't tell any lies.
It was honest. That's all. It was honest.
It was more honest than I've been with myself since she died. It happened and I hit the ground running and ran straight for 2 years before slowing down enough for it all to catch up and that's when the visits started. There was one morning after two years when I woke up and actually dialed the phone because I had forgotten the most important detail for a moment, and then I felt foolish and sorry for myself, and then angry with myself and angry for everyone else who dared say anything that didn't ring true to me. Then when the anger wasn't sustainable I pushed back down too and set to work on other things about myself and came to peace with many of those things, and every time she showed up again I put the pain back on the shelf to save for later.
Things come back around in their own time and demand resolution. You can't run forever.