When The Beloved died, I felt all his love for us leave his body and latch on to us, to the home, to me, so strongly that it was like wading in it.
I felt him equally strongly around me for several weeks. I had been told he would leave at some point, soul stuff to attend to.
So, he left, at some point.
Then I went on, vaguely waiting for him to come back.
Several weeks of functioning, with a brain half frozen, of functioning correctly and being repeatedly praised for being strong, but hardly remembering at the end of the day what I had done with my time.
Week one of four weeks of magical moments.
I am sitting in meditation one evening on the veranda, usual spot and time.
Then I felt this presence. A pin of light. So strong. So, Charlie. Charlie, is that you? I felt yes. Or maybe I heard yes.
But of course, it could have been inside my head.
Week two of four weeks of magical moments.
I am walking the dogs at Scribbly Gums, a beautiful piece of bush, and favourite of our dogs who have befriended several wallabies there.
I am walking up the path, calling out loud my love for him. And asking out loud, “CHARLIE ARE YOU HEEEEERE?"
Just then I lift my eyes, and see this big fat content koala on a branch over the path, just above my head.
“Charlie, IS THAT YOU??” He looks down at me, content, fat, relaxed. I burst out laughing.
I keep walking, wondering why this koala would be Charlie…
Well, because he made me laugh, and Charlie made me laugh…
But of course, that too could have been inside my head.
Week three of four weeks of magical moments.
I am driving from suburban house to suburban shopping, in search of a prosaic coffee plunger. Driving down the road, talking to Charlie. Missing him particularly much that morning. So out loud, and exasperated came my “CHARLIE , WHERE ARE YOU? SAY SOMETHING!!”
Keep driving. No answer.
A couple of kilometers further down the road, I park the car, enter the little suburban shop, find the coffee plunger, take it towards the cash register.
Two ladies are standing there chatting, Australian, middle aged, friendly and smiling. One takes the coffee plunger from me, doing small talk and kindly enquiring if I found the shop to my liking. Then she turns to her colleague and, waving the coffee plunger in front of her, asks “Did you ring this finish?”
Such poor English. Although obviously an English speaker.
I immediately recognize a pidgin turn of phrase. The Anglicised version of “Yu ringim dispela pinis?” (Have you rung this?)
I don’t ask her about any Papua New Guinean connection. I pay, thank her, and walk out of the shop.
Then I turn around and come back. I go to her and ask her, “Have you lived in PNG?”
“Yes”, she answers proudly, “24 years.”
“Where were you living?”
Then I ask, but I know the answer already, “Did you know Charlie Edmunds?”
“Yes” she says. “Really well. I took over his apartment from him, after he moved into their house, with Bernie and the kids.”
More chat about her acquaintance with Charlie, details etc. But the point had been made. Charlie HAD said something.
Made my week. And not inside my head. In down to earth suburban Brisbane.
Week four of four weeks of magical moments.
Tamara is graduating today. Big lump in throat and stomach as I am getting ready to go. Charlie wanted to be there, but died too early.
While I am getting dressed, I am talking to Charlie – out loud: “Charlie, remember how you said you wanted to be there for Tamara’s graduation? Well, it is today, and I am going now. I will see you there.”
I drive to the school, have a bit of a hard time finding a parking spot, get into the auditorium a bit late. Very packed. I am lucky to find empty seats next to John and Tracy, parents of Tam’s close friend.
Tracy is sitting on my left; the seat is empty on my right. Most of the seats are full, but the rest of the row is empty on my right.
The ceremony starts, speeches, a bit of music, speeches… Mind drifting a bit. I wonder if Charlie is here. I pay more attention. Indeed, I can feel him on my right-hand side. I push the image away, but it comes back, so clear. I settle into it, comfortably leaning against the warmth of Charlie’s chest and shoulders, on my right.
Tracy is sitting on my left, I catch her from the corner of my eye. I see her look towards me, starts, and turns more fully towards me. She leans over to me, “Can you feel Charlie?”
My turn to start. She repeats, “Can you feel Charlie next to you?” I answer yes, I can feel him.
And then she adds, “I have just seen him, sitting next to you.”
I start sobbing, quietly, and keep at it for most of the ceremony. Not that I am sad or glad; I am relieved that what I feel is real… Charlie has come to see his daughter graduate.
Not in my head. In a school hall, in full view of others.
The impression on Tracy has been profound. She speaks about how he was sitting very straight, his hands on his knees. Charlie did not believe in leaning back. He looked healthy and was smiling.
She even added, “Lucky you sat where you sat, otherwise he would not have had space to come and sit next to you.”
Made my week.
Waiting for the next magic moment.