Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Weird Checker

Just days before Thanksgiving, a new Whole Foods opened down the street from me. As a foodie, there aren't too many more exciting discoveries. Depending on how you look at it, the gigantic, two story, block-long structure featuring amongst other things a wine and tapas bar, custom nut roasting and candying counter, massage room, and 300 ft. butcher case is either an insult to the art of gastronomy or an orgasmic adventure in a culinary paradise. Regardless, I chose to do my Thanksgiving shopping there, knowing that the produce would be fresh, the meat Prime, and the cheese nothing short of spectacular. As I loaded the goodies onto the conveyor belt, the redheaded checker asked me how many people I was having over. "Just twelve," I replied, "but this is the first time I'll be doing it on my own so it's still intimidating." "All family?" she asked.

I suppose I could have simply said No and left it at that, but my "no" including a few too many qualifiers, and after several attempts to avoid the inevitable, I ended up explaining that my husband had died and that this was my first year hosting a holiday without him.

Her response was, "I can sense that he is here with you now, though. You must be overwhelmed with how much he loves you."

Um, thanks. I smiled sheepishly and looked away hoping she wouldn't realize my sudden, awkward shifting. Not only did I feel like she was stepping into risky territory, I also felt ashamed and embarrassed at my inability to confidently affirm her assertion. Was Dalton there with me now? Could she see him? What was he doing? Is it against my faith to think these things? She continued, giving me a weird sort of psychic reading in the checkout line at Whole Foods while I stood there, frozen with a forced smile on my face. I left; feeling completely bewildered and ticked off. If Dalton really was near me, why did she get to sense him when I couldn't? And, if he wasn't, why was this crazy woman saying this to a grieving wife. It didn't make me feel better either way.

I've always secretly envied those people that were able to sense their loved one's presence after he/she died. For a long time, I told myself that this sort of talk was contrary to my Christianity, but then I read A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken, an Inkling and close friend of CS Lewis, and realized that he claimed that his wife stayed with him for two years after she died. So, if Dalton or my mom weren't communicating with me, what did that mean? Didn't they love me? Were they ok? Was I too closed off to the spirit world? Was I ok? It was even worse when a friend or coworker would have an encounter with one of them. I mean, who was I, chopped liver? And now, the checker was sensing Dalton's hand on my shoulder and I was oblivious.

Truth be told, I have been having more "encounters" with Dalton. I use the term loosely because they have mostly been dreams. However, since I rarely remember my dreams, anything vivid enough for me to recollect is worth noting. In the past few months, I have had three or four that woke me up and compelled me to write them down. Mostly, they are happy dreams, full of peace and joy. Dalton and I are both in the present time. We talk and laugh and comfort one another, but there is a sense that he is somewhere physically, spiritually, and emotionally that I can't yet be. Weird, I know, but true. Most of these dreams also include some kind of admonition or guidance from him about what I'm doing and feeling, so maybe it's just my own mind trying to accept the loss.

Tonight, I took Iain out to look at the Christmas lights in and around Hastings Ranch. This section of Pasadena, about 4 miles from our house, displays the largest neighborhood commitment to Christmas decor that I have ever seen. Iain and I drove at least 20 blocks and still hadn't seen it all at the end of the night. Not only does the individual homeowner dress up his home, but the sidewalks feature giant Santas, snowflakes, angels, snowmen, etc, and every house has a Christmas tree in their driveway.

This is when I finally sensed Dalton's presence. I was driving around, talking with Iain about the lights, the decorations, and the meaning of Christmas, when Dalton broke into our conversation and said, "I'm proud of you. I'm proud of the job you are doing with Iain, the joy you have in your life, the woman you have become." It was short. The feeling of his presence only last a couple of minutes, but it was significant. And, I hope, I really hope that it wasn't just my own mind trying to accept the loss.


Blogger mendacious said...

love the weird checker and all the lights.

3:29 PM  

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