Two weeks ago today was my birthday. And a week ago yesterday was John’s birthday. He would have been 50 this year. And you know he would have rocked this party.
It was our tradition every year to reserve the weekend between our birthdays as our annual standalone date night. With only 6 days between our birthdays, there was usually a full weekend between our birthdays. This year my birthday fell on a Sunday, and John’s fell on a Saturday. We would have spent the entire week doing special things, cooking lots of great meals, all leading up to his 50th birthday.
I decided I didn’t want to be alone for his birthday, so I held a Halloween party gathering of our local friends instead. Doctor Who TARDIS on my front door step and a yard full of spiders and angels and all. John always wanted to get a bunch of angels for us to move around the yard every night. I didn’t have the energy to move them around, but this year 14 angels from 3 different cities graced our yard around the TARDIS. Not every friend or adopted family made it, and some had to come late, but it was really nice to see the ones who came.
It’s been 13 months, 2 weeks, 6 days, and 85 minutes since John left this world. And I’m ever seeking signs that he still exists. He and I met in theology school you know. We both have theology degrees and he could have been a minister if he wanted. (I wasn’t allowed to, being a girl and all. At least not at that institute.) I guess my point is, we’re not strangers to religion, or church, or a lifetime of service or God. My faith has never been challenged as it was during John’s fight. And in the face of death, his never wavered. If there were ever a recipe for comfort after death, you’d think we had it.
And yet the silence is deafening.
The frustrating thing is, I can’t even seem to have nightmares about him, much less dream about him. And while I believe in God, I don’t have the experiences other widowed spouses have reported about their dead loves. I don’t experience the kind of comfort they do.
In my support groups, there are all sorts of stories of people actually seeing their passed away spouses, feeling them around them, hearing their voices talking to them, flickering lights, objects moving, seeing signs from animals, feathers and rocks in the shape of hearts and unknown gifts left for them. One even reported hugging and holding her husband, and knowing it was real. Others report that the broken dishes they find and other things are signs that their loved ones are still around, though I find it bewildering to consider that someone who loves us would run around breaking things after they’re dead.
And let’s not forget the Cardinals. It is said that cardinals are the spirits of loved ones coming to check on you. But my problem with this is that cardinals were my Grandma Dot’s favorite bird. I’ve grown up with families of cardinals in my backyard, and my grandmother’s backyard, my entire life. I watch them bring generation after generation of baby cardinals to my bird feeders. While cardinals are usually territorial, in my experience multiple families will live in the vicinity of my backyard. It is not uncommon for me to see three different male cardinals in my backyard in a single day. It is always been this way. And while I always think of my grandmother when I see them, it’s because they were her favorite. There are always cardinals. And to me this beautiful bird is something John would specifically never use to show me he’s there. Because he knows.
All these stories from other widows… but as usual, I don’t experience any of these things. I’d be happy with even just dreams. I’ve dreamed dreams my whole life. I saw my aunts, uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers after they passed in my dreams. They were detailed and comforting dreams. But I don’t get them for the man I spent 22 years of my life with. The man whose life I desperately tried to save. It really is as if a black hole opened up and completely removed all traces of him.
And I guess as a deeply spiritual person, married to a deeply spiritual person, desperately in love with each other, determined to fulfill a number of missions of service on this earth together… I just expected more.