The Front Walk
On a night not long after my precious mom died
from cancer, I was reading the last two chapters of The Ripple Effectthe
ones on death, dying and the afterlife. I was crying hard from sorrow, because,
unlike the people in Betty's book, my mom had not come to me from
Heaven in a dream, and I was feeling sort of cheated. The house was so quiet
around me, you could hear a pin drop. Suddenly, I saw a strange flickering
on the living room ceiling. I figured a moth was passing by the light out
front, but the weather was too cold for moths. I looked out the window and
saw that the spotlight aimed at our front walk was flickering like crazy.
It had never done that before. But then, unusual things had happened recently
out on the front walk.
The first happened the evening
my mom died. My husband was in the bedroom, and I and my two cats were in
the living room. I was fidgety, watching TV, and suddenly one of my kittens
ran across and flew like crazy into the front window. "Why is he so
anxious?" I thought. "Someone's out there, walking up the path. Who
could be visiting us now?" I had no reason to think this, but my cat was
acting like someone was there. I went to the door to see who was coming,
but saw no one. Suddenly, the cat calmed down and wasn't interested anymore
with what was outside. I shrugged and sat back down. Then the phone rang.
It was the nursing home letting us know that my mom had died about five
minutes before. I felt a shiver, and I knew darn well that Mom had just
paid a visit to our front walk.
It was frigid cold the next day
when we brought Mom's belongings home. My husband and I were freezing as
we went back and forth from the car to the house, carrying her things. Thoughts
of Mom were on my mind, and I said to myself, "She'd be upset to see us
suffering in the cold like this because of her." Then we noticed the pungent
smell of a burning cigarette on the front walk. My husband and I don't smoke.
Neither do the neighbors. But my mom had been a serious smoker for years.
We used to joke about it because she had called cigarettes her "vitamins."
She quit smoking when she moved into the nursing home, so nothing of hers
smelled of smoke. Standing on the walk, my husband and I gave each other
a knowing look. There was no reason for the smell of cigarettes to be on
our front walk. We knew this could only be Mom's funny way of saying "hi."
The smell lingered for a while and later went away.
I've accepted that my mom, most
likely, will never visit me from Heaven in a dream. But I will always think
of the flickering light, the anxious kitten, and the mysterious scent of
cigarettes as sweet "hellos" from her. And perhaps the next time
something strange happens on the front walk, I will simply go to the door
and invite her in!
Marilyn Zelinsky Syarto