I’ve dined with ghosts before.
Weeks ago I had dinner with my friend, who served as best woman at our wedding many years ago.
I spend every wedding-anniversary-dinner-that-should-have-been with this friend, but this was an ordinary night.
At one point, she asked me if Jim was at the table. (She is, after all, the one who coined the term “ghost hubby” on my objectively–if not spiritually—spouse-less wedding anniversary.)
I hemmed a little, then told her “Well, he has a lot going on. A lot of places to be.”
And I envisioned him in great detail not to my right, but hiking among vast mountains I’d never actually seen. Assuredly he was somewhere in the great outdoors just then, and not in the Chinese restaurant where we sat.
Yes, my mental state had reached a point where I was making apologies to my dinner companion for the absence of my late husband.
Last weekend there was an empty seat at the dinner table. One of our sons had just graduated from the university his dad had chosen not to attend after all–thereby ending up meeting me.
A year ago, at the same son’s college commencement, I had felt Jim’s presence so keenly that I could describe precisely the space he occupied–five paces to my right, on the balcony overlooking the indoor ceremony, on one knee and with a camera lens focused on the son who wore a white remembrance ribbon pinned to his graduation gown.
“Is he letting me go?” I asked my friend when I realized that Jim did not after all seem to occupy a seat at the table that night, though there was plenty of room.
“What do you think?” She turned the answer into another question, as therapists and lawyers tend to do.
I think we both knew I really meant, “Am I letting him go?”
On one level I realize it’s silly of me to think he has other things to do now, places to explore, people to watch over, now that he doesn’t need to keep an eye on me every second lest I fall to pieces.
I no longer weep all the hours I can’t sleep, and to some degree I carry on for both of us.