Before there were blogs, there were journals. Ten years ago...
October 28,2000 ...
It is the fourth month of the odyssey, to the day. I am planning a journey to Mayville. I will photograph and video tape the ‘show’ hanging at Artistry. It will not take long, and afterwards, I can go and visit my Aunt Siggy and Uncle Ed. While I have been gathering the things I will need for the trip, I remember once again to look for the John Powell transcripts of “Free To Be Me”. I am not only fortunate enough to find it with “Godspeed”, but also to find the passage in it that has been trying to make its way into my consciousness.
“Sometimes I think that God is like an electrical outlet. God is there, and he’s got all sorts of power waiting there. But you have to get plugged in. And that plug is faith”
I am reassured, to have found it again, and that it carries the same meaning as I remembered.
I telephone Aunt Siggy to tell her of my plans, and ask if a visit would be okay. Her voice...warm and friendly in recognition, enthused at the prospect of a visit, is also surprisingly reminiscent of Mom’s. I attribute the coincidence to biology, but it is a pleasant surprise, nonetheless.
My photos taken, I arrive at their home. I am received with even more warmth and enthusiasm. I had been so worried about them-they looked so very frail at the funeral. Here they are vibrant, with tales of their latest excursion, a riverboat gambling trip. These people are not only strong in spirit, but despite their aging, are equally strong in mind and body. They have their difficulties, but are in no way held back by them. We talk of Mom, and my grandparents; I learn new things. It is almost predetermined that we will talk of faith, which they practice religiously. I bring up lost things and prayers to St. Anthony. Aunt Siggy replies, “Oh, you mean Tony?!” We share the delight of having the same friend. The lilt in her voice, its tone and timber, strikes me again. Again I notice similarities in her voice to Mom’s. It is there in her face, expressions and mannerisms. She is, at once, reassuring me of her own unique vitality, and at the same time, offering me a comforting notion that Mom continues in the same way. Perhaps I was trying to absorb her faith by osmosis. Perhaps Tony was with us, and knew what I was really looking for.
We hugged when I left, and she said I made her feel good; I reminded her so much of her daughter, ‘Peach’. I said she reminded me of Mom.
As I began the long drive home, the autumn sun was beginning to settle low in the sky. The fields and farmlands around me provided a lovely pastoral landscape. I left the radio off to enjoy the serenity, and then, there in the silence, was Mom’s laugh. In my mind’s eye was her smile, and the soundtrack to it was her giggle. Short, sweet and swiftly disappearing, it left its buoyant mark on my soul. I could’ve said it was really her, but I was not a true believer yet.
Later that evening, after Mike had already gone to bed, I discovered a movie had previously begun. I had wanted to see “Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind” for a long time. I had not missed very much at all, and I settled right in to enjoy it. There were blanks in my memory of the movie; at last I’d be able to satisfy my curiosity. As the tale unfolded, its characters tormented by visions and experiences that they did not understand, I began to see the parallels. These people were on an odyssey of their own. These people had questions, these people sought answers. These people were much misunderstood by those around them, and yet they continued on in their quest. These people were dazzled by an encounter with something not of this world...
When the ‘special effects’ alien, surrounded by radiant light, made gestures of peace and goodwill, a thought struck me: “Even if there is life on other planets, I’ll bet we have the same God...”
It was only moments later, movie over and again surrounded by quiet, that the watershed began. The events of the day began to tumble through my head like magic dominoes. All the positive energy built to one powerful surge, and gave me the courage to begin phrasing that question once again to God. Before I could finish the words in my head, I already had my answer.... “But you have to get plugged in. And that plug is faith” I made a quantum leap from the faith I’d already built, to a greater one, and I believed.
And she was there. It was not a dream, it was not a memory, and it was not the comforting appearance of an imaginary friend. This was not a product of my mind. It was an experience of my senses, of my heart, of my soul.
And she was there. I felt her with me, and I sobbed in awe and relief. I was there, her baby, toddler, teenager and mother of her grandchildren...and she was there, my Mom. I let every emotion run its course.
When I let go of the experience and brought my thoughts back to this world, I was changed. Grief was no longer a bottomless hollow inside. She was only a heartbeat away, through the most ethereal of clouds. The healing phase of grief began. and continues.
I have no proof. In fact, I told no one for some time. It was only days later when self-doubt crept in, and I feared I would never feel such a wondrous occurrence again. And then I heard her say,
“You found me...did you think I’d let you go?”