I got this book yesterday: “I’m Dead. Now What?” when I was at Hallmark picking up some sympathy cards for my former mother-in-law and her mom when I noticed it. An employee said “That’s actually a really great book, if you can get past the title.” My eyes dipped to the floor before meeting his. “I’m sure it is…” then I mumbled “I wish some people I knew had it or something like it…” too low for him to hear, and I wouldn’t repeat myself. I picked it up and put it in with the cards.
I was on my way to deliver a black onyx urn to my dead (ex) husband’s last girlfriend, and I didn’t have much time. But his mom used to work at the Hallmark store, so I made the effort to get cards with that gold crown on them. She never liked me much, but I didn’t take it very personally. Shannon started acting differently when he started dating me. I think she was happy to see that initially, but that faded quickly.
The urn was a curious thing. A couple weekends ago, I went up to Canton to V-Rock, a tumbled stones and crystal warehouse, with some friends. Of all the things I was drawn to, the pull to this black onyx urn was both the most curious and strong of anything there. I asked the others about it to see if it was for any of them. I couldn’t figure out why I had noticed it at all. I left the shop without it and the curiosity about it faded with each mile traveled back home to Columbus.
Two days after Shannon died unexpectedly at 42, I found myself on a spontaneous day trip to Cuyahoga Falls with the woman who officiated our small wedding at the end of May in 2015. I met her less than a month after Mark died, and she’s been a very significant teacher and friend. We went for her dental appointment, and decided to stop by V-Rock so she could pick up a few things she had purchased for others. As soon as that was mentioned, I knew why I was going. That black onyx urn wanted to make its way to Shannon’s mom before his funeral service next Tuesday, and I was going to get it started on its way.
I asked his ex-girlfriend, who had been kind enough to contact me before the family made the news of his death public (though that’s not how I found out), to meet me to pick up the urn. And she obliged. When I met her, I saw the woman with the long, fiery red hair that I’d seen in a vision a couple years ago of him with his future wife and kids. I saw two little girls in that vision. Blond. It looked like Easter morning. And that was one of the first things I blurted out after she sat down to talk to me. No, no… not awkward at all.
Obviously, things hadn’t gone the way of that vision, and we were both sad about that for different reasons. But I know we both hoped he’d be happy someday and have the family he wanted. She told me not to feel obligated to sit and talk to her any longer, which made me realize I’d been sitting there awkwardly for awhile, not knowing what else to say. So I gave her an awkward hug and bade her good day… life… and headed out.
I felt lighter after that, with a big chunk of my mission having been accomplished, at least as far as I can tell. Shannon and I never really made sense together, even when we were. But I feel we learned a lot from each other, and definitely changed the course of each other’s lives. I haven’t typically been very good with social etiquette or obligation, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be starting now. His funeral and celebration of life services are this Tuesday, and I’m not planning to attend either of them.
I’ll give myself some time, but I’m going to fill that death book out and get my things in order for myself and anyone who might have to deal with it. Mark didn’t have anything like that, and I highly doubt that Shannon did, either. As I write this, I’m just feeling very sad in the way that grief brings up all sorts of emotions, and they come and go unpredictably. This time, I’m just letting them flow through me without judgment. Healing begins with our own heart and spreads out from there.