When does a haunting begin?
I’ve always assumed that the memory of someone we love begins to haunt us after they die. But maybe death is like walking around the corner while singing a song. They are out of sight but you can still hear the tune. And maybe the haunting begins with a sweet little ditty that they begin to sing when we can still see them, hold them and even harmonize a bit.
My Dad is alive. But the other night when Michael was opening a bottle of wine he told me that for the last 3 years he’s been unable to open a bottle of wine without thinking of my Dad. That’s because the first time my folks came out to meet Michael he was zipping around the kitchen preparing dinner. At one point he pulled a corkscrew out of the drawer and deftly uncorked a bottle of Cabernet. Viewing his future son-in-law’s grace my Dad said, “Man, you sure know your way around a kitchen!”
That one statement comes to Michael’s mind every single time he opens a bottle of wine. Michael told me all this the other night and I couldn’t help but note that something in his voice when he told the story made me realize that Michael was simultaneously deeply flattered and proud that he impressed my Dad. Michael really values my Dad’s opinion, I’ve always known that. But I think it meant everything to him to know that he had won my Dad’s approval even in a small way.
“Ever since then,” Michael told me, “I haven’t been able to open a bottle of wine without thinking of your Dad. It’s gonna be like that for the rest of my life. It’s like he’s cursed me or something.” We laughed about it. But I realized that when my Dad eventually passes away (hopefully many, many years from now) that will be the way he haunts my husband. But the thing is, he’s already started haunting him.
So it begins now. Here I am contemplating the possibility of creating life and I am simultaneously obsessed with the ending of it. My grandmother is alive. But she who gave me my first cup of java haunts me daily when I have my morning cup. Michael’s mother is alive. But she haunts me every time I see the Oakland Raiders emblem and remember her referring to them as “those jerky Raiders!” because she doesn’t like to curse. My mother is still alive. And she haunts my every move because she really was my very first Best Friend and in some ways will always be. But I always think of her when I see the old Godzilla movies, the original King Kong, The Day The Earth Stood Still or a dozen other classics that she still obsesses over.
I wonder how I will haunt people. I wonder if I am already haunting them. Maybe spirits are not bound by time or space. Maybe they can travel back in time to their own lifetimes like some ghost of Christmas past. Maybe everyone I have ever loved or will love is here. It would be wonderful to imagine my future children are even at this moment haunting me in the little toys and baby things that I see in the stores. Or in the faces of children around me. I hope that I am haunting them too. Because if I am then I know that there is a bond that cannot be broken and that death is merely a corner that we all turn while singing our own sweet songs.