Sometimes I am certain I get signals from my husband Jim: the sunlight tapping on my shoulder at our college chapel, the sea foam splashing at my heel as I faltered on the words “murky splash” when my children and I went to the beach and planted roses in the sand.
It is not difficult to see and hear signals everywhere.
In the never-ending paperwork that has followed my husband’s death, I have come across some niggling puzzles I simply could not solve—like trying to figure out the password for one account I needed to close, and was used so rarely that my husband did not think to leave me that information. Finally I found a human at the appropriate corporate entity willing to disclose the password after an unnecessarily elaborate security check.
My pause, once she told me the password, was so pregnant she asked if I was still on the line.
It was because the password he used was so utterly uncharacteristic of my husband.
Every other password, for every significant account, was a dutifully impenetrable combination of random letters and numbers and symbols.
For this, instead, he had chosen what is written inside my wedding band.
After I broke my foot and could not manage even to get our torque-rich dogs out of the house without pulling the crutches out from under me, my brother put up a sturdy wire line to which I could tether our freer-range beagle. The line is just within my reach if I steady myself and perch in the doorway, and just outside the window of our home office.
Yesterday I saw a bird perched on the wire, surveying a gorgeous spring day and the bounty Jim had set up for his feathered friends.
When I cleared out Jim’s truck’s best-hidden compartments I found three things: his music-laden Ipod, his stethoscope, and some special bird suet he had purchased on his last trip out on his own, when he himself no longer could eat.
Late yesterday afternoon my son and I saw two red-tailed hawks –a rare sight indeed, soaring and spinning very close to us, just above the home and land Jim loved. They seemed to be doing an intricate dance, one settling high in (and not venturing far from) a two-hundred-year-old tree. The other, whose presence was sure and commanding, kept flying away and then returning to engage the other, as if coaxing her away from the tree.
I could not have captured them on film, even if I had happened to have my camera at the ready, but they reminded me of two scarlet macaws and their mating dance—a sight I have seen only in my husband’s and daughter’s photographs, from perhaps the second-greatest travelling adventure my husband ever had.
Any rabid John Hiatt fan will you that red-tailed hawks immediately call to mind the rhythm and words of a beautiful song. My husband knew this particular song never failed to gladden my heart–when “the other side” meant only the far side of the canyon:
I’ve been sleeping for some hours
Just woke up and you were there
Like the morning, like the flowers
Sunlight whispering in my ears
Red tail hawk shooting down the canyon
Put me on that wind he rides
I will be your true companion
When we reach the other side . . . .
And I will try, but I will stumble
And I will fly, he told me so
Proud and high or low and humble
Many miles before I go
Many miles before I go
Here I go
Ghosts on the trees, there’s
Ghosts on the wires
Asking questions and showing signs
Shivering with truth, they’re lighting fires
Lighting fires all down the line
(c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon