Over six years now, since I was Will’s wife. I’ve built a new life; I’m feeling “single” again. Still, there are sad days; recently, I saw men on our downtown sidewalks, all afternoon, wearing Will’s clothes: over-sized buffalo plaid shirts and orange baseball caps. After the fourth one, I gave up on getting anything done. I drove home and dove under my covers to weep. Bitter sweet nights, Will comes laughing into my dreams, as silly as ever. Then I wake, remember death, and want to never wake again.
Other days, I have crazy real connections with my dead husband. The power of grief, too much imagination, or magic? Whatever it is, he’s often at my side. Early on, I was working downtown, and as I trekked our city on errands, enjoying the weather, I knew I was out walking with my husband. He’d walked the same sidewalks for thirty years. I felt him in my feet, and whenever those sensations rose to a mental state, I would look up or start listening, and almost always find some little message from him.
Within that first year, I had a falling out with a difficult person, close to both of us. At a point, I understood that this relationship was over. That evening, sitting in my chair by our woodstove, I felt Will walk into the room. I heard him saying, “I told you; that’s how he is!” Blessing my decision, comforting me, making me laugh, just like always.
Will loved to give me gifts. Two years after he died, in Seattle alone, I admired an elegant coffee mug in an expensive store. I walked away, slightly tempted but being my usual reasonable self. Ten minutes later, after wandering aimlessly, I found myself back in that store, letting my ghost husband buy me that fancy cup. Another day, driving in West Seattle, I noticed a rummage sale sign, and heard my invisible passenger nagging me. He loved garage sales, and I’d been avoiding them. I went into that church basement to find this portrait—it’s Will on the spirit side. He, my mysterious story-teller, always identified with Kokopelli.
My ghost husband challenges me sometimes. He used to say that if I died first, he would give up our old trailer, move someplace new, and become one of those homeless vets who hang out at intersections taking charity. This was a man whose heroes were Kramer and Homer Simpson. I never could explain him. But over the past few years, I’ve befriended the poverty-level disabled Vietnam vet at the stop sign near my home. Last week, I talked with my friend about him needing a winter coat. Will’s pack-rat collection of coats went to the Mission folks years ago. All that’s left is a rain parka I gave Will; I want to wear it for the rest of my life. So today, me and my invisible spouse went to his favorite place, Value Village, and bought a winter coat for our friend.