signs from the dead


Hamlet, I, 5 - Hamlet and the ghost.

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Can’t remember whose theory on dreams and the subconscious gave the most weight to the symbolic nature of the people, objects and situations that make up the scenery of our nightly home movies.

I blame Pat Robertson and the Progressive Left in any case for last night’s visitation regardless.

Normally, my dreams are populated only with people I know and the setting is most often a variation of the town where I attended university or a school building I once worked in. I don’t know why and I haven’t bothered to research what it means or doesn’t.

Dead people seldom have starring roles in my dreams. If the departed do appear, they have cameos at best. But last night, Will showed up, which shouldn’t come as a surprise thanks to the Robertson faux uproar, but I have to be honest – I was surprised because he has only deigned to grace my dreams a handful of times in the past five plus years and never as more than a walk on. Ever.

I was back in school. It was – god help me – the 80’s with  clothing and the hair styles so jarring that I actually commented on it to another character completely out of context to the situation.

I found myself back on Currier E2 in my old corner room (minus the high-strung room-mate) and Will shows up to visit me for the weekend. And you could have knocked me over with a feather when I opened the door and it was him. Normally, it’s Rob who rides shot-gun in my dreams. Very seldom do I dream that Rob doesn’t figure at some or all points.

Here’s the odd thing – as if dreams with dead husbands stopping in for visit aren’t odd enough – he was not young. His hair was longer, curled like Dee’s does at the nape, around the ears and that same cowlick that drives her to distraction and salted with gray. His face was lined a bit and his goatee salted as well.

This has happened once before where someone who’s been gone a while showing up in a dream looking his real age. My Uncle Jim popped into a dream not long before Will and I married, looking very much like the 65-year-old man he would have been and not the 39-year-old man he was when he died.

When I asked him what he was doing there, he said,

“I thought I should visit now.”

I had been on my way out to meet friends, but his arrival prompted me to suggest we stay in. He didn’t want me to change plans. He would come along after he changed into a clean shirt.

He was not the 30-year-old I remembered from before the ravages of illness. More solid. A bit thicker and hairy, but not on the order of a grizzly.

Throughout I was aware that he shouldn’t have been there but I got no further explanation from him about why other than he deemed the visit “necessary”. I sorta felt like he was less happy to see me than I was to see him and that the visit wasn’t for pleasure but one of those dutiful things a person does.

He watched me with an appraising sort of look. He seemed tired as though he’d come a long distance to spend time with me, but whatever he’d left behind him was still on his mind. He mentioned at one point that he wouldn’t be able to stay for more than the night. He had to get back. I didn’t ask where or why, and he didn’t volunteer any more information.

I’ve thought about it all day and I can’t figure out why – after all these years – he put in an actual appearance in my dreams. He has never felt the need before. It has a ghost of Hamlet’s father feel to it. Blunted purpose chiding? Perhaps.


Lambeau Field, Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packe...

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I planned to sleep on the flight back to Edmonton today but about 15 minutes into a barely one hour flight we hit turbulence, the kind that rocks the plane from wing to wing and back while the body of the plane gives a good imitation of shaking to bits.

Jarred back to my usual state of being hyper-aware that I am not in contact with the earth, which I view as completely unnatural and totally in opposition with my self’s needs, I needed a distraction.

Fortunately, we were flying WestJet, which provides complimentary satellite TV. As Dee was using the only set of earplugs I can currently put my hands on (because she’s “borrowed” and lost just about every pair we have), I surfed the channels for something I could watch sans sound and nothing is more perfect for that than football.

It was championship Sunday in the NFL. Packers were whomping the Bears in their home stadium – so much for being the top seed. What was most interesting to me was that the AFC game to follow pitted the Steelers against the Jets.*

Back in the long ago day, I was a Packers fan and my late husband was a rabid Steelers fan.

In 2006, the Steelers clinched the AFC title the evening before Will died and went on to win the Superbowl a couple of weeks later.

He also told me that someday our teams would meet in the Superbowl. How odd that it such a thing has come to pass today.

Or not.

*Bret Favre had to be just eating his own heart with fries today with both the Packers and the Jets playing for the minor crowns today.


Just to clarify, I get song signs from my late husband, Will, and that’s it. There’s never been anything more aside from a couple of dreams here and there where he has more or less been just an extra. He doesn’t speak to me or rattle windows or make the floorboards squeak. In the early months after his death, he – according to Dee – would stop by and play with her and there was that picture he showed his face in, but he saves visitations for Rob.

I’m not kidding. He visits Rob in dreams.

I woke Friday morning to find that Rob was up even earlier then usual and dressing in the shell of our not quite finished walk-in closet. Allergies are currently beating me about the sinuses and ear tubes due to the fall harvest ringing our little hamlet with a thick dusty residue making uninterrupted sleep impossible, so I lay in bed for a bit to get my bearings. The other night I’d heard my name being called from the corner of the room by the wall cupboard and for some reason I glanced over there this morning. I saw a bright glow behind the door that quickly skipped to the middle of the room and vanished on a run towards the blinds.

“Was it headlights maybe?” Rob asked when I told him.

No, headlights aren’t yellow or perfectly round and they leave streaks.

But I digress because I only mentioned the voice and the light to Rob after he told me about the dream that woke him up early.

“I was sitting at a lunch counter with Will,” he said. “He was on one side and I was on the other. There was a third person too that I didn’t know and seemed to be facilitating our conversation.”

I searched the first husband archives in my brain for a place that matched the description. Nothing matched. We didn’t have haunts like that though something makes me believe it was a place where Will used to play pool. Perhaps in one of the little hole in the wall southern Iowa towns in Warren county.

“I wasn’t sure it was him at first because he had longish hair and was leaning forward so the hair covered the sides of his face,” Rob continued.

Will started losing hair shortly after we were married. It vexed him horribly because male pattern baldness ran on both sides of his family and, in addition, he was sprouting hair on his chest for the first time.

“I’m going to be bald and have a hairy back,” he would complain. “Great.”

But when he was young, and unemployed, he had long hair and really wanted to find a job that would sanction long hair. He kept his hair short – sometimes shaved to the wood – for comfort in the stuffy warehouse were he worked and then later because of the fact that his hair was falling out, but he really was a Kurt Cobain wanna-be with his flannel shirts, dreams of long locks and a dark inner poet.

“We had a long conversation, and I don’t remember it all but two things stood out,” Rob told me. “He said he wanted to take a bike trip in Mesa Verde with you and that he thought I was doing a great job with Dee.”

Will talked a lot about the Boy Scout camp down in New Mexico. It was his favorite place after the mountains. We schemed for a while about making a move to Denver after we were married, and he always talked about wanting to make sure that at some point we took our children to visit his favorite places out West.

“And then there was a group hug at the end,” Rob finished.

The last time Will visited Rob in a dream, he hugged Rob. Hugging was something he picked up from my mother – who basically forced the whole huggy culture thing on our family when she went through her middle-life crisis and was a Charismatic for a while. The hugging stuck and the talking in tongues mercifully faded into family folklore.

I have to admit that sometimes I am a bit annoyed by the surreptitious way Will keeps tabs and inserts himself. However, I am glad for the mini-updates on him, knowing that he is getting on with his existence on whatever plane he is residing and is happy with the way things are going here.


My first husband Will will be dead two years tomorrow. Interestingly I had a visit from him today as I was heading to the grocery store.

I am a button pusher when it comes to the radio. I surf XM until I find something I like. I listen. And then if the next song is not something I care for or I am not in the mood to listen to – I begin my surfing all over again. After I dropped Katy off at school and was heading toward the Safeway, our song came on. It’s a song by Everlast that was playing constantly when Will and I were first dating and though it is not romantic in any sense of the word it dogged us so much that Will took to calling it “our song”. I have only heard it sporadically since he died, but whenever it has come on the radio it seems “sent” because it turns up at moments when I really need to hear from him. And that’s what is even more interesting because I didn’t think I really needed to hear from Will today. I had asked him to pop in and say hello in my dreams a few days ago as I am dreaming like crazy and to my mind – no purpose. But Will has declined command performances in my slumbering hours. He has shown up only once – as I remember him from before he was ill – and that was the night he died. And he didn’t speak to me. We didn’t interact at all. I just saw him packing up that old white boat of a car he drove when he was a teenager and then he hopped in and drove away. It was as clear a message as he could give me that it was time for each of us to move on. We had spent enough time in limbo. His only concessions to me have been a photograph of his urn that I can see his face on and the night he walked by my bed just before I fell asleep just about one year ago. Aside from that, he has used the radio. When he wants to remind me that he is still checking in and making sure all is well – it is Everlast, and when he wants me to remember that I am doing fine and he is proud of me – it is Jimmy Eats World. Considering how much time we spent driving around in his pick-up and listening to the radio, I think it is fitting that he chooses to contact me this way.

So, I sat in the parking lot and sang along with Everlast until the song was over and though in retrospect it makes me cry, at that moment I felt pretty good.