Monday, September 6, 2010

This Is Not Goodbye

I don't believe in spirits from beyond or ghosts or ESP or telekinesis or mediums or any of that hocus-pocus mishmosh.

Until now.

I was slumped in Verna's electric recliner chair on Friday night, past midnight (so it was actually Saturday morning), after having just watched Date Night. (Why I chose a romantic comedy just days after Verna's death is beyond me.) A wave of sadness washed over me and I could feel a creeping sense of despair. I missed Verna. I thought, "I'll never see her again. I'm alone. The kids are alone. I'm scared."

So I got up and decided to fill one of the photo albums I bought for the kids as memory books. I chose Maya's, which has Disney princesses on the front and back, and started putting in about 50 photographs, mainly of her and Verna.

When I finished I walked into the kitchen to clean up a bit before going to bed. It was 12:30 am. Suddenly I heard an alarm, so I rushed into the living room and stopped right in front of our entertainment center, the one from Sear's that took me several years to build after deciphering the instructions.

I cocked my head to the left, thinking the alarm could have been coming from upstairs in Miguel's room (he was at Lake Tahoe with a friend and the friend's family). I thought, "I've got to silence that alarm so it doesn't wake Maya."

As I looked to my left I saw that the screen light on Verna's iPod, atop the entertainment center, which hadn't been played or touched since the night before she died, was on. I saw the black strip highlighting a song and I did a double take. "No," I thought, "it can't be."

The light disappeared, so I pressed the middle of the button, the spot that turns the light on only, and saw that my eyes hadn't failed me. The song showing was This Is Not Goodbye (by Melissa Etheridge), which Verna used in her DVD photo tribute to her mom and is the first song--chosen by Verna--in her DVD to be screened at her funeral this Wednesday.

And as soon as I pressed the middle of the click wheel, the entire docking station turned on and the song started playing. I pressed the pause button, because, frankly, I wasn't in the mood to hear the song, but nothing happened. I pressed it a second time. A third time. A fourth time. Finally, I got the message: listen to the damn song, Steve, Verna is communicating with you:

Bravely you let go of my hand
I can't speak yet you understand
Where I go now I go alone
This path I walk these days of stone
And the angels are calling
I must go away
Wait for me here
Silently stay
And don't ask me why
Only believe
This is not goodbye
All of my strength all of my desire
Still cannot melt this breath of fire
I go to meet some kind of test
Bury the truth that scars my chest
And the angels are calling and calling
I gathered all my courage
I shaved off all my fear
With this banner on my shoulder
I hold your essence near
And the angels are calling and calling
As the song ended and my breath had skipped a few beats, I knew for certain: Verna was speaking to me, reaching out to let me know that everything would be OK, and that this is not goodbye. We will see each other again. Go in peace.
I felt better, much better. I thought I was the last person who would ever, ever believe in anything remotely otherworldly. Even though I told Maya that Mommy is a star in heaven and we locate her every night before Maya goes to bed, I didn't really believe it. I just wanted to offer my sweet four-year-old something tangible to relate to after she lost her mommy. I don't believe in Santa, but I would never burst Maya's beliefs. Tonight I even told her she could ask Santa for a bigger girl bike this year.
But after Friday night, I am a believer. Do I believe in Santa? No. But I do believe with all my heart and soul that Verna spoke to me. And I now believe that the spirits or souls of our departed do exist somewhere in the universe and do connect with us through electrical devices and other ways.
Verna's message--This Is Not Goodbye--has brought me a sense of peace the past two days, a sense I know will be severely tested on the day of her funeral and for many days after. But just knowing that she is here and can communicate with me is comforting enough for me to battle the demons of despair.
As for that star in heaven, the one twinkling above our house each night? Verna, Verna, Verna. For sure. Absolutely.


  1. Beautiful, Steve. I've also been visited by my Erik in similar ways, as have so many others I talk to on the Widowed Web Community Page on Facebook. Light and healing, Hyla

  2. I am sorry I couldn't go today (Rosh Hashanah and all) but Lisa told me how beautiful it was and how many people were there and how openly and honestly you spoke to Maya and Miguel. In a minute I am going to pick up my mom to run an errand and I will hear about it from her also, and then I will speak to Susan Krausz and hear about it from her.

    You are a good man, Steve, a real mensch, and Verna was lucky to have you.

  3. Just as beautiful today as the day you spoke those words. And my tears are equally plentiful today as then.