I admit it – I talk to my dead daughter. It’s a lot easier to say this now that I’ve found I am not the only person talking to a dead loved one.
Moreover, she talks back.
“Get this one,” Marika said two months ago, when I was paging through a Garnet Hill mail order catalog to buy my birthday gift “from her.” It was a flame red dress with a floral design. Not exactly my style, but it was red. She had always bought me something red for my birthday, a red sweater, scarlet capris, red woolen socks.
“That dress is on back order,” the sales operator said when I called. “It won’t arrive until late June.” That seemed like a long time to wait. I ordered it anyway because it was the one Marika chose.
The package came earlier than predicted. The red dress was in my mailbox on the day of the campfire celebrating my friend’s husband’s life. I considered wearing it for the campfire. Whenever Marika had new clothes, she’d put them on immediately.
“No, it’ll be too buggy and cold tonight,” I told her as I tried the dress on. It fit, and felt perfect.
I wore the dress the next evening at the Hospicare and Palliative Care Services Luminaria Lighting where I volunteered as a “goodnighter,” seeing guests off as the sun set and the white paper bags with lit candles lined the walkways.
“Mom, can we take my bag home?” she asked after the ceremony.
“How will I find yours? There are hundreds of luminarias.”
It was dark. I walked alone. The hem of my dress swept the path when I bent to read the labeled bags. I found it.
I wore the dress the evening after, at the Fingerlakes Photographers’ opening for the exhibit, A Closer Look: Independaent Visions of the Natural World, at Damiani Wine Cellars. It was my first time exhibiting three of my photos in a show. In my flame red dress I found Marika’s courage, and faced the crowd, proud of my new endeavors.
“Thanks, Mareek. What do you think?” I said before and after each event as I twirled around in the dress before Marika’s life-size portrait, my inherited dog dancing at my side. Talking to her is one way I keep my daughter in my present time. I will not allow Marika to be merely a part of my past.
How do you keep the ones you love, and thought you lost, in your current life?