An unexpected un-ghosting
November 17, 2013 by Thomas Wictor
After Mom’s funeral and the reception, I heard car doors slam in the driveway of what I should start calling Tim’s house.
Since I wasn’t able to attend the service, I went over to talk with Tim, Paul, and Eric to find out how it went. There was a very expensive imported car parked in Tim’s driveway; I don’t know anyone who drives that make.
I opened the door without knocking and immediately saw the last person on earth I expected. She sat in Mom’s armchair, looking very small.
“Hi, Tom,” she said nervously.
I greeted her, asked how she was doing, and pulled up a chair. Though I was stunned, I’m not the same as I was even a few weeks ago. I seem to be able to handle anything now. The evolution continues.
Within five minutes I had her laughing so hard that she was crying. She herself was as funny as she’d ever been. Her sense of humor perfectly matched mine.
My brother Pat and his wife Ellen arrived. We talked about Mom, and my ghost began sobbing.
“The house is all wrong without her,” she said.
After a few minutes she regained her composure. I spoke to her about my strong belief that Mom is okay. My ghost is a skeptic.
“I’m unlucky that way,” she said. “I really wish I could believe, but I just can’t.”
I told her about the clothespin child that fell on Tim’s hand, and my dream that Mom and I went to a restaurant and ate mackerel tempura.
“If I’d seen the clothespin child fall on Tim’s hand myself, then I’d say, ‘Yes! I believe!’ But I’d have to see it happen myself.”
We talked about my ghost’s time in London, where she’d met Tim and gotten to know Dad. She did her dead-on impression of Dad interrogating Tim about his relationship with her.
She has perfect recall; if she’d been a journalist, she wouldn’t have needed a tape recorder. Talking with her brought back memories I’d long shunted aside.
This small, dark-haired, universally talented, irreverent, ridiculously intelligent person with an outrageously profane sense of humor also told me about the career she’d recently had in the entertainment world. I was floored, but it fit. She and that medium were made for each other.
All in all we spent almost nine hours talking about Mom, Dad, movies, earthquakes, Japan, Britain, booze, Armand Asante, her family, her crazy neighbors…
She laughed and laughed and laughed. Each gust of her mirth healed me a little more.
I won’t change Chapter One of Hallucinabulia: the Dream Diary of an Unintended Solitarian, nor do I regret writing it. The chapter will stand as a testimony to rage and the fact that vicious words can never be unsaid. Still, if you read the chapter, keep this post in mind.
One of my brothers told me I’m too harsh and judgmental now. I agree with him that I’m harsh and judgmental. But for me I’m not “too.” I may be too harsh and judgmental for others. That’s fine. My current mindset is my current mindset. I might change; right now it’s too early to tell. It doesn’t bother me to be thought of as too harsh and judgmental.
I can’t tolerate self-indulgence that leads to others’ suffering, I can’t tolerate dishonesty, and I can’t tolerate the denial of crucial problems. Life—even a life as full of pain and horror as mine—is a magnificent gift, and I can’t tolerate its squandering. In my harsh, judgmental way, I will call people on what I see as their failings. It’s entirely possible that I’ll be wrong in my assessment. I’m often wrong.
The ghost who came to Tim’s house yesterday is no longer a ghost. I’ve forgiven her. My brother asked me how I could forgive her, since she hasn’t apologized for her despicable cruelty and since I’m now so harsh and judgmental. How could someone as unforgiving as me genuinely forgive? Aren’t I just a posturing blabbermouth?
My answer is that yes, I am a posturing blabbermouth, and she told Tim she’s sorry. I don’t require a direct apology. It’s extremely hard to admit that one has behaved horribly. I know it was almost impossible for my ghost to admit it to Tim.
That’s enough. Her tears and laughter were her penance. It was a completely unexpected un-ghosting, and she did it herself. I didn’t magnanimously forgive; there was simply no reason to continue holding her past behavior against her. It’s over. For those nine hours, she was the person I’d always liked and once deeply loved. I understand the context of her actions. Context and genuine remorse are what allow us to forgive.
When she left I hugged her, the first time we touched since 1997.
“Good-bye, Tom-Tom,” she said in my ear.
It was truly great to see you, Noreen. Take care and be happy.
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