March first was my husband Bill’s birthday. We were together almost thirty years, married for twenty of those. Because we were together that long, I can see him in many ways, in many versions, and in many settings. He is gone now, but there is the full arc of his life with me from which I can pluck a memory. There’s the young, rakish fellow who first asked me out, the actor who changed faces and personalities with every role; there is the soft face of a father and a grandfather, the confident, solid face that kept me anchored when the seas got rough, and the loving, peaceful, blue-eyed visage that looked at me as he left this earth. I have never seen so much love as I saw in that last look.
Bill had been in and out of his body several times before he finally let go of his earthly bonds. I only had to look at him to know when he wasn’t there. He came back one last time to say goodbye, and in his eyes was something I’d never seen before. It was a love that, as Scripture says, passes all understanding. I think that love was a reflection of what he had seen, of where he had been, and it came back with him, mirrored in his eyes. It was…unearthly. What I mean to say is that it was, for wont of a better word, heavenly. It was as if he was trying to tell me that he had been to someplace wonderful, more wonderful than I could imagine. It was saying that he loved me and that he always would. It was all there, in that one, beautiful look. It was, truly, worth a thousand words. Of all the faces of Bill that I remember, that is the one comes to me most often.
I have felt him around me more these past few days. I just finished re-reading one of his favorite books. Bill loved the English novelist Nevil Shute, and had an entire collection of his books. In the days when we were dating, he would read them to me in a stately, gentle way, because that was the way Nevil Shute wrote and that was the way his stories touched Bill. When Bill passed away, I gave most of the collection to his youngest son, Patrick, but I kept four – my favorites. When I read them, I hear his voice caressing the words, savoring each syllable. That must be the most cherished wish of every writer – to be that reverently read and loved. If Heaven is what I think it is, Nevil Shute and Bill sit in an English garden from time to time, talking, a pot of tea on the table between them. What a lovely thought.
Bill was around me on Thursday, the day after his birthday, in a most practical way. I’m working on my taxes for the accountant – always a punishing exercise. He used to do this abhorrent chore for the both of us, but for the last six years, it has fallen to me.
But back to Thursday: we kept a bank account from which we drew checks only to pay estimated taxes. It simplified things. Just for the record, I’m pretty good about keeping things and putting them in the proper places. I started out my working life as a secretary, and it left me with some valuable skills. I never misplace important documents. I had two other checkbook registers from our old bank from which to work, but I could not, for the life of me, find the one that listed my paid estimated taxes for last year. I hadn’t, as a matter of fact, seen it in a while, since I moved and changed banks. But I have a rule. I keep one file each year for everything I am going to need in February and March, when I start to assemble tax data. The checkbook registers are always put there, along with everything else.
It was nowhere to be found. I turned the office upside down. I went through every possible file, more than once. I cleared my desk and put everything back. I looked in drawers and boxes. I was getting desperate. Just before I decided to tear my hair out, I went back to my desk one more time, lifted a file folder and…there it was, underneath. It’s notable because it is the last one I have with Bill’s handwriting on the front.
The register wasn’t lost. Of course it wasn’t. Nothing else, and I mean nothing else, among loads of tax-related papers was lost. I don’t LOSE these things. Bill moved it.
No, this isn’t crazy. I’ve had things like this happen to me before (I’ll bet some of you have too). Bill just wanted me to know that he was around, that’s all. He put it back. But he got my attention. For those of us who make a study of things metaphysical and ponder the workings of the spirit world, this is a common occurrence. A thing that is transported from one place to another or the appearance of an article from an unknown source is called an apport. Material things are de-materialized (you know, like on Star Trek) and materialized again. The point is just to let us know that Spirit is around. That’s all. It’s nothing spooky. It’s just another act of love and remembrance. When it happens, we meta-physicians take it in our stride, smile, and say thank you.
Happy Birthday, Billy, and thanks for the visit. You know, I know, and I hope that my readers know by now, that Nobody’s Gone for Good.