Thursday, March 26, 2009

2325 Visits from Jay

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My husband Jay died in late October, 2001, after eight years of marriage and a three-year battle with brain cancer. He had known right from the initial diagnosis what was going to happen, and I encouraged him to figure out for himself where he'd be going, what would happen next. We both thought of it not so much as a end, but as a transformation.

Ever the scientist, he decided that since energy could not be destroyed, and life is energy, his energy would continue. The trick would be keeping it together as an entity. By the time he died, he was almost looking forward to it. He'd always wondered what black holes were, really, and he planned to find out.

The announcement I sent out said "A new star is traveling the Heavens".

A few days, maybe a week, after he died, I was standing on the back deck in early evening, and I noticed an odd cloud formation. There were wisps of high cloud moving quickly across the sky, but there was one lower block of cloud that was stationary. It's difficult to convey how remarkable it was. It was a face. Clearly a face. A rectangle with some fluff on top, a lot of fluff on the bottom, a round hole where each eye would be, and a triangular hole for the nose. The kicker was that the moon was centered in the right "eye". I looked at it for a moment. It was backlit by the moon, very bright. I said aloud, "Jay? Is that you?", (Jay'd had a beard. The fluff on the bottom looked just like his beard), and then a wisp of higher cloud crossed between the face and the moon, and the right eye winked. It winked at me.

It absolutely winked.

Truth. It happened.

And then the cloud, which had held position for several minutes, slowly broke up and drifted away.


A few days after that, in early November 2001, there was a big meteor shower. Jay loved meteor showers. He used to drag me off to fields, to lie on the hood of the car and watch them. (Why are all meteor showers in COLD weather?) I figured I owed it to him to watch this one for him. The peak was going to be at something like 5 am, so I set the alarm, got up, and went out to the deck. It was very cold. I stayed outside for maybe 5-10 minutes, no more. During that time I counted, and I quit counting at about 60 meteors within the first few minutes, I guess. There were lots more, I must have seen a hundred, easily, and from the deck I could see less than half the sky. They weren't little flashes, either. Most went halfway across the sky. Even though I froze, I was glad I'd made the effort for Jay, because this would have thrilled him.

A few days later I was talking with the president of the local amateur astronomer's club at a Mensa dinner, and I asked him if he'd seen it. He said the whole club had been in the fields at 5 am, and it was indeed spectacular, that they were coming at the amazing rate of 20-30 per hour!

Twenty to thirty per hour? I'd seen way more than that in a few minutes.

I think Jay arranged a private showing just for me.


Over the next two years I often felt him nearby. A warm arm across my shoulders. A problem with the computer that suddenly fixed itself. A video game that I won time after time, but only if I asked him to help. Weird, but not, apparently, unusual. Could be explained by coincidence.

Oddly, I had no dreams of him.

I had promised him I'd take his ashes to a particular state park a few hours from here, and scatter them on a cliff near one of his favorite falls. Our dog had died six months before before Jay, so I had her ashes, and those of a cat, and the ashes of a daughter I had lost in 1967 and had been carrying around ever since, because I couldn't just leave her somewhere alone. (She was supposed to be buried with my mother, but Mom died unexpectedly while I was visiting her in Florida, and I wasn't able to go home, get the ashes, and return in time.)

So in 2004, Daughter and I made weekend plans to take all the ashes up the mountain. Unfortunately, Daughter wasn't able to make it on Saturday. I had to make the climb alone. Ashes are heavy! I couldn't carry them all. So I took Jay and the dog.

The trail ran up the west side of the creek. The cliff above the falls was on the east side. So I went above the falls and waded across the creek, thence to the top of the cliff.

Daughter arrived that evening at the little hunters' hotel, and that evening it rained, hard, it poured all night. On Sunday morning it was still drizzling. Daughter wanted to walk the mile up the trail to the falls and pay her respects, but I was feeling a bit sniffly, and sore from the climb the day before, and didn't care to walk in the rain, so we decided I'd just wait in the parking lot, and then we'd have lunch, then part. I put the baby's and the cat's ashes into her backpack, and gave her explicit directions on how to find the right spot on the cliff and how to scatter them so they'd stay on the cliff and not get washed away in rain.

Then I settled in the car with a book. A bit later, the rain stopped. The creek passed the parking lot a little way into the woods, and there was a rather nice falls there (the last of the 23 falls down the mountainside), so I decided to go look.

I totally freaked when I saw those falls. The water was thundering! It was shooting out way past normal. Of course! It had rained hard! I don't know why I hadn't thought of that before I sent Daughter up the trail. I know her well enough to know that she would try to cross the creek anyway. She can be very determined. I looked at my watch and knew that she'd probably already arrived at Jay's falls. If she tried to cross at the ford above the falls, there's a good chance the force of the water and the slippery rocks would wash her over the falls.

I yelled, "Jay, if you're anywhere around here, stop her! Jay, help! Stop her! Now! Please!", and I set off running up the trail.

Actually, I ignored the trail and ran alongside the creek, watching the whole way for her hat, hoping I wouldn't see it floating down. I met her sauntering down about halfway. She laughed at my watching the creek for her hat. And then, without my asking, she told me an amazing story.

When she arrived at Jay's falls, she knew crossing above could be dangerous. But just below the falls, there was a huge fallen tree trunk across the creek. She decided to cross there, holding the trunk. The water, normally at that spot mid-calf deep, was up to her hips and moving fast. She couldn't keep her footing, and crossed hand-over-hand along the tree trunk. When she got to the other side, she started climbing the rock cliff to get to the top. She'd got about six feet or so up when something odd happened.

She: "You know how your 'thinking voice' sounds in your head? And you know how you think things kind of connected, like you know what you're thinking about and thoughts follow each other?"

Me: "Yeah."

"Well, I had a thought that wasn't mine. It wasn't my thinking voice. It wasn't anybody else's voice either, really. It was so clearly not me that I looked around to see who'd said it, but there was no one around. It startled me. I was in the middle of thinking something else, and a voice said 'STOP! GET DOWN! If you go up you won't be able to get down!' So I looked, and that was right. Water was coming pretty fast out of the rockface, and I could see hand and foot-holds going up, that's what I had been concentrating on, but I wouldn't be able to see them coming down, because of the water. I hadn't noticed that." She said she hesitated, looking for a better route on the cliff, and the voice came again, more forcefully, telling her to “GET DOWN!”

So she jumped down.

The topology on that side of the creek is pretty rough. There was no way up except up the cliff, and no way back to the parking lot except to cross the creek again, back to the trail. So she started back across the creek, holding on to the tree trunk.

She said that she was about halfway across the creek, and was starting to mull the possibility of taking the trail further up and finding a place to cross, maybe another tree, up above the falls, when she felt a blow to the middle of her back that almost knocked her off her feet, and the voice shouted "NO!" in her head.

She told me that it convinced her. "Mom, it wasn't me! Somebody else was in my head!" And if it wasn't scary enough to have someone in her head, someone not there had actually hit her to impress her. I asked her why she wasn't more frightened, especially about the hitting, and she said that she thought it might have been Jay, "... and that would be ok. There was no other way to make me listen and not argue."

So. It could have been a fairy. It could have been the self-preservation part of her brain taking over. It could have been Jay. It could have been ... anything. Except that it doesn't end there.

We had lunch, and I headed back to New York and she to New Jersey.

That night I was awakened from sleep by the feeling of someone touching me. There was nothing I could touch, but the feeling of being touched was very real. Hands stroked me, and touched me in familiar ways. Jay and I had not been physically intimate in the special way since late 1999. Chemotherapy and radiation and hemiparalysis tends to inhibit that. But wow, did he make up for it that night. It was pretty spectacular. And it was him. I am certain he was there. What I felt was not something I could do myself, and something I‘d had no interest in for four years anyway.

Perhaps he had put so much effort into pulling energies together to deliver that blow to Daughter's back, that he decided not to waste it, and do something nice for me.

Anyway, immediately after that, I felt his presence a lot less, and much less strongly. (Perhaps he’d used up his permissions.)

One of the falls on the trail, during a low-water period. Note the cliffs, and yes, that's people on the bottom.


In 2007, I had been dating The Man for a few months (we're still dating), and he, Daughter, Son-in-Law and I all went to the mountain together (I try to go every year in early summer). It was a nice clear day. We started at the top of the trail and walked down (it's about five miles, I believe). Jay's falls is the last at the bottom, about a mile from the end of the trail. The falls are all named. Daughter and SIL decided to do some geocaching off trail, and we were to meet just below Jay's falls. There was a bit of occasional discussion about it on the first mile or so, and here's the weird part. Every time any of us mentioned the name of that falls, the sky opened and there was a brief shower, a minute or so of rain.

It rained at no other time. But every time we mentioned those falls, it rained. It was so obvious, everyone remarked on it. The two men didn't know that it was Jay's falls, that his ashes were there. They started testing it, and yes, every time they said the falls' name, it rained, and only then. We were getting soaked when The Man declared that he'd drown the next person to say it.

He and I were alone when we got to Jay's falls. I had intended to send him on and stay there alone to commune for a few minutes, maybe Jay would tell me what he thought of The Man. It would be nice to think he approved. But I decided that the rain was a warning, that I wasn't to do that. So we passed the falls with just a short pause, and kept going.

The next morning, The Man and I were talking about the trail and what it means to me, and I mentioned that Daughter has instructions to scatter my ashes at the lower falls, that that's where Jay's ashes and my first daughter’s ashes were. The Man's eyes about bugged out. He hadn't known. He made a connection between the falls and the brief showers, and it blew his mind. He apologized for first playing with the phenomenon, and then for forbidding mention, and then couldn't believe he was buying into it.

I laughed and said, "You think this is weird? Wait'll you get to know me better...."


Zayrina said...

That's just weird, but a neat weird, if you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

That was great!