Monday, July 30, 2007

There Are No Coincidences

I never believed in ghosts. I didn’t ever have a reason to, but since Bryce took his life, there have been too many occasions for me not to believe. It’s true. In the six months since Bryce’s death, I’ve changed. I’m what some might now call a believer. Some people may think I’m crazy that I would even go there (“there” being: seeing signs, getting clues, contacting mediums, astrologers, intuitives, and acknowledging that there is “the other side”), but since I’ve always been a seeker, I was bound to find some things. The signs that I have experienced have provided me with a tremendous amount of comfort. They have helped with my grieving process, which as a survivor, is all that we can hope for while we heal.

The first time I got an inkling that Bryce was still around was when his parents contacted an intuitive after his death. The intuitive gave them a reading and without having any information on Bryce, she was able to see specific details of what tragic events had happened in Bryce’s life before he took his own life. She said names of friends and asked about past events that had happened in Bryce’s and his family’s life. She knew that Bryce had caused an accident that paralyzed his father just months before he took his own life. Goose bumps and shortness of breath kept me present during the twenty-minute reading, listening to all of his hidden truths (some that only I knew) spoken by a stranger made me realize that perhaps I could no longer scoff at television shows such as Crossing Over. It was a time to dive deeper.

I hadn’t dreamt much about Bryce in those early months, and I started to crave my own visions and conversations with him, to get answers to all of the questions that I wanted to ask him. I craved to find my own intuitive or medium to give me a reading and tell me how Bryce felt about this now that he was gone. I read the impressive book, Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives, about the Harvard educated psychologist who, against his own will, had been led by his patients towards past-life therapy. From it, he had learned that we met people from our past lives repeatedly. It had come recommended by the sweet girl who worked at my UPS Store, where I kept my P.O. Box, and once she told me about it I cried, because I remembered that Bryce had tried to get me to read it years before. Another friend recommended a medium named America, but she was booked for a year. Then she recommended another woman who had the gift, but she wasn’t practicing it full time. When she and I spoke, she told me that she would meditate and prepare to contact Bryce and that she’d call if anything came to her. I waited by the phone as a girl might wait for that certain man to call, but my phone didn’t ring. I concluded that his “spirit” had to spend time around his family in these initial months to give them the support they needed. I decided that I would have to find my support within this dimension, and not try so hard to search for it on the other side.

I let go, a lot. I finished my suicide support group, started to see my therapist every other week instead of weekly, and I made an effort to think of how my life might look better than it could ever have been. This is exactly when Bryce started to send his signs. I had spent this particular Sunday working on my book project and I was tired, knowing that once in awhile sitting down in front of the television provided some relief. Though my roommate and I have basic cable, I usually find myself going to public television to catch Frontline. It was nine at night, and since our local PBS station was showing a repeat, I searched for the other PBS station further up the channels. I stopped when I saw the familiar face of Dr. Wayne Dyer, the inspirational speaker who had done a handful of specials for PBS. Bryce and I had gone to see him a year before in San Francisco, which PBS had taped live in front of a thousand fans, and I remembered how we had never seen the finished product. What crossed my mind next was whether the cameras had ever filmed Bryce and me during the recording. The very thought of the possibility had me staring at the screen. The special had been an extension of Dyer’s book entitled, Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling.

Years before, Bryce and I had seen the film, What the Bleep Do We Know?!, which marked the beginning in our combined quest to find out if humans really could create their own realities. As I sat to take in Dyer’s inspirational stories with the studio audience, he came to the part of the talk that I remembered when he read a letter that Ram Dass had written to a couple after their young daughter had been murdered. The letter had been read by the couple in Ram Dass’ documentary, Fierce Grace, which had been named by Newsweek as of the Top Five Non-Fiction Films of 2002. In addition, the film had come recommended to me when I broke down to a random yoga teacher about Bryce’s death in those first weeks. As Dyer read the poignant words of Ram Dass from the television, I got just as choked up as I had that night I had been there in the studio audience. Then all of a sudden the cameras flashed to Bryce who was now on the screen. I gasped and immediately picked up my phone to call my girlfriend who had been in the audience with Bryce and me during the filming. Then I sent a text to his mom and called Bryce’s sister. I was in shock. It was the first time that I had seen live images of Bryce since his death.

Dyer was nearing the end and came to my favorite part in his talk, how he had come up with the cover photo for his book. He lived in Maui, had just finished writing the last chapter of the book, a story about his friend who had died and how that friend had been fascinated by Monarch butterflies, when Dyer had walked outside to sit in meditation. A butterfly flew onto Dyer’s hand and stayed there for two whole hours while he walked the beach, certain that the butterfly was his friend. He told the story just as well this second time around on TV as he had that night. And just as he was explaining how open we had to be to see these miracles, the screen flashed into the audience and showed Bryce and me. I burst into tears. There were only two stories about death, and life after death, in Dyer’s full three-hour talk, and during those two specific (and quite special) stories, the camera had chosen to show Bryce. I was starting to believe.

Months later, I had planned to gather with some of Bryce’s friends and family to sprinkle some of his ashes in his favorite river. The intuitive had seen that image back in the reading months before, reiterating an idea that I had come up with, so we were secure in the fact that we had chosen to do the right thing. A week before, stressed and a wreck, I decided that I couldn’t handle the trip. I needed a vacation, a real kind, from Bryce, from the suicide, and from my grief. My closest friend who had stood by me during this tragedy helped me decide that we should go to an island to relax and get as far away from all of this as possible. In our day-long layover, we got a hotel room to rest before our evening flight, and for the first time in my life, my back went out. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t stand, and I certainly couldn’t carry my backpack. My friend asked me if I was well enough to go on the trip. Normally, I would spend some time considering if my pain was psychosomatic, but I was in so much pain that all I could do was sleep. I slept for four hours. When I woke up, my friend lay in the other bed.
“Amanda, there’s something I want to tell you,” my friend held her journal and a pen while I had just stepped out of the bathroom having taken a bath to try to relieve my pain.
“This has only happened to me one other time with my grandmother and I didn’t want to believe it,” she said quietly with ease.
I stood in my towel with wet hair and slowly lowered myself to sit on my bed.
“While you were asleep Bryce came into the room.” I took a deep breath and felt the emotions taking over, the lump move into my throat, and tears swelled in my eyes.
“What? What do you mean? How did that happen? Were you dreaming?”
“No,” she said calmly. “I was awake just lying here. He came in and sat down on the end of my bed. I know. It’s freaking me out, too.”
“I said to him, ‘Are you ok with her taking this trip with me?’” (Since I had cancelled the trip to deal with his ashes on the river.)
“He said, ‘Yes.’” I tried to straighten up and pay attention.
“Then I said, ‘I'm sorry that we've been talking about you and that I have been comparing you to Jordan (Jordan was her recent ex). I won't do that anymore.’ He said, ‘That's fine.’”
“And then he said this to me, ‘I want you to tell her that I'm going to take care of her.’”
I burst into tears, “Oh, God.”

The tears swam down my face and onto my neck. I paced the room back and forth, wondering what life was all about, wondering if Bryce had finally been ready to come give me the comfort that I had needed from the other side. I didn’t know whether to believe her. She didn’t want to take it for real either, so we talked about it some more.
Then I asked, “What did he look like?”
“I could only see his back. But he was wearing a red jacket. Actually, it was a red, fleece jacket.”
My friend didn’t know Bryce enough to know what he would wear. She had probably only met him a handful of times. Then it hit me.
“Wait, Bryce was most likely wearing the red, fleece jacket I gave him when he killed himself.”
In that moment, I realized, there are no coincidences.

Monday, July 9, 2007

You’re My Home

You once told me that I was your home,

and I wrote it down so that I would never forget.

I clung to that wrinkled piece of paper by mistake,

like it was an extension of your heart.

But then I learned that paper can never wrap its arms around you,

or hold your hand in a crowd,

or dance with you on an empty dance floor.

I thought it could, but that was my mistake.

So now, when I’m not busying myself with missing what was good,

I remember what it really feels like.

I’m more at home all by myself.