|Charon and Psyche crossing the River Styx|
I was on the phone--a land line--sitting on the bed in a hotel room. I was talking to a friend I hadn't seen in years, and we were making arrangements to get together. She invited me to dinner. "Oh, not that night, I said, Mr. Ex will be staying with me and I don't want to bring him along." There was some awkward conversation then wherein I explained that the ex and I hadn't gotten back together and that, in fact, we weren't even friends, but he really needed a place to stay, so I had obliged.
"Just because he's staying with you, you don't need to bring him," she said. I was about to thank her profusely for that insight, when Dan's voice came on the line.
"Hi, baby," he said. There was a whirring noise in the background as my friend's voice receded. I could hear Dan clearly, but for a moment I was confused, thinking I'd accidentally hit the voicemail button on my cellphone and was listening to a saved voicemail. But no, this was a land line that I was talking on. I pulled the phone away from my ear and looked at it to be sure. "I just want you to know I'm good," he said. He sounded happy, as if he was at a party, entertained by something that was going on there. "I wish I could see you though," he said.
About this time my conscious brain sprung to life. I'm talking to him, I'm talking to him, I'm talking to him, and I have to remember. I have to remember. The dream began to dissolve then, but I think he told me one last thing---that he loved me.
Can I tell you that I conjured this? (I'm fine. I swear.) A wave of desperation had swept over me as I got ready for bed. I have to see you. I have to talk to you, I said to the emptiness. I put on the Iris Dement CD that he gave me for my birthday last year, and sat reading the lyrics while her voice filled the room. I've listened to this album so many times since receiving it, but somehow the lyrics (in the photos below) never sank in. I'd had a couple of glasses of wine, and I wasn't sure I could believe what I was reading, but I thought maybe these songs were a clue that might lead me to him, a portal of sorts. I listened to the first two songs again, then took out that CD, and put in a CD of Dan's that was a radio interview he'd done (long before I knew him) about World T'ai Chi Day. I'd already rubbed a dab of his shaving cream into my palms and the scent lingered as I lay down on his side of his bed, listening to his voice until I fell asleep.
The friend in the dream--she was at the birth of my younger daughter, and I'd seen her very frequently during that pregnancy. So now in this dream I spoke with her on the phone while I connected with the afterlife.
And Mr. Ex, what the hell was he doing there? Oh, and I forgot, just as the phone call was wrapping up, my trusty financial guy came through the door. I hung up the phone and threw myself into his arms, crying, "I talked to Dan. I talked to Dan."
What the hell?
But hey, I talked to Dan, everybody. He said he was good.
P.S. And do you know what else? My mom talks to her dead twin sister every night. It starts as she stands in the kitchen after dessert as she's finishing her final martini, staring out at the water. She starts to doze, and the next thing you know, she's there on her feet, half asleep, talking to the dead. I usually stay up an hour or so after she goes to bed. I sit on the couch in the dark, reading and writing, and I hear her voice rising out of sleep. And even before her twin died, she talked to other dead people. My dad, her other siblings. A conversation we had about that years ago and a dream she told me about a parrot led to THIS STORY.
Life. Stranger than fiction, right?
Right. Because in my family, we talk to the dead.
|Some lyrics from an Iris Dement song|
|More Iris Dement lyrics|