Irish Spring

Do you ever hear people talk about how they can always feel their loved one on the other side? How they’re always with them, guiding them and protecting them? Or maybe this has been you. Maybe you have felt close to, or even seen, someone close to you who has passed away. Maybe they’re always there when you feel lonely or broken or lost. Maybe you had a dream about them and woke up confused that they were gone again because it seemed. so. damn. real.

For nearly the past three years, I have heard people tell me these things. I’ve heard stories about how comforting and healing it was to feel their loved ones, see their faces, and hear what they had to say. And I’ve been suuuper annoyed, because this has never been my experience. Even worse is when other people have felt him when I can’t! Like- WHY?!?!?! I’ve always felt cut off from Gregg, like he just disappeared into thin air. This was especially unsettling for me because I do believe that there’s life after death and I would like to believe that the veil between here and there is thin enough that we can feel near to them. I mean, I’ve heard numerous stories of people having experiences that the more spiritual side of me believes, and the more cynical side of me calls bullshit on. I mean, I’ve never seen those things, they must not exist. But that’s also the naive and prideful side of me. And I clung to the idea that I could have those experiences. I prayed and prayed for something, anything. To be able to see him and hear his voice, or even just to feel his presence. To get one of those little reminders that he’s there, like his picture falling off the wall or finding his deodorant (which I’ve kept since he died, which is very un-creepy and 100% normal) on my bathroom counter. So yes, I was basically asking, begging, for my dead husband to haunt me.

And still- nothing. Well, almost nothing. I can remember two times distinctly where I have thought maybe that’s nothing, but maybe it’s something. Once when I was talking to Thomas, who was still two at the time, and out of nowhere he started looking off in the distance and then relayed to me something daddy had just told him that ended in him saying goodbye. That one felt pretty real at the time, but the rational side of me also thinks, “uh, yeah, that’s a two-year-old trying to make sense of the fact that this very important person in his life who he saw everyday just up and disappeared, not a visit from a dead person.”

Then two summers ago when I took the boys camping. Alone. It was so fun during the day, and so freaking terrifying at night. If we weren’t eaten by bears, I was sure we were going to be skinned alive by the man camping next to us. And what would I do? The boys were too young to run fast, but too big for me to carry and move faster than… well, than a in shape-ish woman trying to carry 70 pounds of toddler. And what could I do to defend us? Probably just piss off our attacker, maybe slow him down, a little. That night, as I sat petrified in fear, I felt Gregg. Like he was there protecting us, like he did when he was alive. It was as if because we were obviously in actual danger, he was suddenly able to tear away from whatever cool stuff he’s doing over there that’s more important than just, you know, hanging out with us. Now we needed him. And like some weird Twilight-y thing, I could feel closer to him because I was risking our lives… Camping is intense.

And that was it. No dreams (at least not good ones), no messages from the other side, nothing.

Until a couple weeks ago. I don’t even know how to describe it, but Gregg’s been here. It’s a hard feeling to explain and I don’t think we can truly understand it unless we’ve felt it. It’s not like I could turn around and see him right there. It’s like if I close my eyes, I just know that he’s there. If I close my eyes, the image of my surroundings imprinted on my brain has him in it. With every move I make, I’ll never touch him, but he’ll be moving along with me, matching my pace and staying right by my side without ever interfering. And I can’t even pinpoint anything that happened that would have changed things. Just one day, I felt him sitting next to me in the car. And he’s been next to me ever since. Maybe I’m finally not as emotionally walled-up as I have been and more open to getting these feelings. Maybe he was too busy jumping out of Heaven airplanes and lifting Heaven weights. Maybe he had some serious work to do and he’s just now getting to the point where he has more free time. Or maybe he had some serious work to do and can just now understand where he is and what’s happening.

There was one other time when I felt Gregg. When I really needed to feel him and know what I should do. And the only feeling I got was confusion. Like being lost in the dark and not knowing which way was up. That doesn’t sound like a Heaven I believe in, but it does sound like how Gregg felt before he died. Maybe we don’t all of a sudden get this sense of understanding everything, maybe we don’t see it in neat little rows from start to finish. Maybe we are who we are and we still have to grow.

Whatever the reason that I can all of a sudden feel him, even if it’s just me in my own head, creating something outside of myself that will bring me comfort, I’ll take it.

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