Sunday, 4 October 2009


I knew she was dead before the phone call came.

It’s not that I have premonitive powers, it’s just that, while ambling about my office building minding the Department’s business, thoughts of my friend intruded persistently into my mundane musings, unbidden and apropos of nothing. It was then I knew that she was gone.

Three days later it was more with dread than shock that I accepted the phone and heard the words, delivered with so much gentleness and compassion, which confirmed my awful suspicions. She had died the day before my sudden inspiration.

At the wake, speaking to her mother who was so kind and so gracious even in the midst of her own grief, I told her how the inexorable thought of Mel had come to me that day. She smiled and grasped my hand and said I’d given her a wonderful thing.

The sceptical among you may deride or pity me for my foolish notion of messages from beyond the veil. You may argue that such things as an afterlife or spiritual communication simply do not exist. What you describe is just one of those millions of coincidences the gullible and the ignorant choose to interpret as fate or divine intervention or evidence to support their own crackpot theories, you may say.

So you thought about someone you know, those more willing to believe in unexplained sympathetic links may respond, brows furrowed over my assumption. So what? If every person who popped unexpectedly into our minds were to die, the global population would be decimated!

Regardless of your opinion on the possibility, I’m sure you’ve all noticed the glaring illogicality of my story. Why on earth would you conclude she was dead? you will think. And if you thought so, then why the hell didn’t you call her? Why did you do nothing for days until her poor brother had to ring you with the terrible news?

I can’t bring myself to articulate the answers to these questions, to see them in black and white, to release them into the ether whence I will never be able to recall them. In truth, I’m not completely sure of the answers myself, although I don’t deny that they involve a lot of shame on my part. I’ve known her for over 15 years and I never stopped being her friend, but I was obviously a crappy one. I don’t ask for forgiveness or absolution for my part in her death, because I know I deserve none.

The point is, she sent me a sign she was gone. I also, as I’ve written before, bought my Babo after (so it makes me smile to think) she arranged for him to appear in front of me, on sale. Scoff if you please, wonder how a disaffected Catholic or any intelligent, rational person can believe in that sort of thing if you must, but the truth is it gave me comfort and it gave her anguished mother comfort to know she was still present in some form even after her body was no more than an empty vessel. I’m not the type to fall prey to charlatans claiming to pass on messages from departed loved ones (for a fee), I’ve not joined some strange cult encouraging me to drink their tainted cordial, so where’s the harm?

Of course, a fleeting visitation does not ease all the sorrow of a friend gone before her time. Not long after the funeral, I wrote to her family. This is fucked up. Depression is the Devil and you were all robbed, is what I wanted to say, and I knew they’d understand exactly what I meant without further explanation. But that’s not the sort of thing one writes on a card for a 31st birthday that will never be celebrated. Instead, I settled for a lame sentiment expressing their continued position in my thoughts and prayers, and hoped they’d know I was sincere.

It’s been more than six months now, and the constant burden of sorrow is lighter. I take this as both a blessing and a token of my unworthiness. But I know she forgives me for neglecting to call, to write. I know she understands I never forsook our friendship. I know because, as strayed from the flock as I am, I still believe in a heaven, and in that heaven one is free of the base instincts and unbecoming motivations of us mortals on earth. There is no anger, no accusation, and no disappointment in the failings of others. She wasn’t like that anyway – her mother told me how she thought of me fondly even at the end. Most of all, I know what I say is true because, a few days ago as I cried over her needless death, I felt a touch on my shoulder from a hand that wasn’t there.



hazelblackberry said...

That's lovely, Lonie. You know what you felt and what it meant and that's all that matters.

Lonie Polony said...

Cheers, hb :)

Little Snoring said...

I have had similar experiences, and they have not really happened on a every day day. I think often something extreme has to happen before we become open to the signs.

Lonie Polony said...

I think human beings are certainly connected in more ways than we understand or accept, Little Snoring. I hope your experiences have not been distressing.