Making lasting friends was never easy for me, moving from town to town didn’t help matters much. We were always losing touch, watching friends come and go.
Living in Mesa had been home in many ways but having made a few close friends was the most exciting thing that had happened to me. I wanted more.
When my father left the Army, he took a job with a Company called, Motorola Electronics. In many ways I felt like we were still in the Army, as we moved to two towns for his new position, but after 2 short years in Mesa we were moving, again.
This time we were being transferred to Austin Texas. Settling on a home in a nice new community, Cedar Park, just outside of Austin, for the first time in my short life my parents bought their first home! Even though, all I knew about Texas was there were a lot of cows and cowboys.
I think I was more excited about it than any of my sisters. I saw it as planting roots. A promise to wake up in the same place, day after day. My mind swirled in possibilities, we could plant a garden, just like my grandparents and buy some chickens and rabbits. We would fill the whole acre lot with life and maybe, just maybe, I could make some lasting friendships.
While we were waiting for the house to close its escrow, we stayed with one of the Realtors my father had met during the search for our new home.
His name was Dan, a very nice-looking man, tall with dark black hair and striking blue eyes. I could tell he was a lonely man inside but wasn’t abusive in any way. He did however host a ghost in his home. I would see her walking through the hallway, walking from one room to the next, as if she were searching for something. Always dressed in a White flowing robe, long black hair pulled back with a blue ribbon.
One evening, my mother was cooking dinner in the kitchen. It was the first time she had cooked since leaving Arizona. We had been eating out a lot of KFC, as I recall. She was making lasagna, one of the family favorites but all I could do was sit at the kitchen table, watching this woman watching my mother. I never knew when to speak of what I was seeing. I had learned by this point to wait and see what the ghosts does to see if I will mention anything.
She really had my attention, apparently my mom was asking me to assist her for a moment, I snapped to when she yelled my name, “Sheri! Can’t you hear me, I need you help with this strainer!” I jumped up to help my mother and she asked me, “What were you thinking about? You looked like you weren’t even there.”
“You won’t believe me.” I spoke in such a low voice I could barely hear myself.
“What? Why would you say that?” She knew all too well why I was saying that. She still had a hard time believing anything I told her when I ‘saw’ things.
“Okay, I keep seeing a real pretty lady walking around this house and right now she is standing right behind you.”
My mother froze, “Right behind me?” Her speech was slow, as if she couldn’t get the words out of her mouth.
I whispered, as though I didn’t want the lady to hear me, “Yes, she has been watching you make dinner.”
“Is she still here? Still behind me?” Mother stammered her words.
“Yeah” I said as I shrugged my shoulders,
“She doesn’t look mad, does she?”
“No, not mad. She is very pretty. So, you believe me that she is here?” I questioned my mom. Trying not to look behind her, my Mother said in a very low voice, “Yes, yes, I believe you, now tell me if she is still there, this is freaking me out a little.”
“Yes, she is still with us. Here let me help you.” As I helped my mother finish draining the noodles, I began asking this woman if she could talk to me; some could, some couldn’t.
She started telling me her name was Rachel and that she was Dan’s wife. She had passed of breast cancer in this very house! I was relaying everything to my mother when Dan walked in. He had returned from work early, as he knew mom was cooking dinner tonight. When he entered the kitchen, I stopped speaking to Rachel. At that instant Rachel disappeared.
“Now she is gone, she just disappeared.” I whispered to my mother.
Dan greeted us with a big smile, “I smell something delicious! I am really looking forward to a home cooked meal tonight, it’s been months since someone actually used that oven.” He laughed and threw a smile my way.
I couldn’t help but ask, “How long? Who was the last one to cook in your kitchen? I really haven’t seen you do much cooking, is it not something you enjoy?”
Without skipping a beat, Dan let it all out, “My wife, who had passed just 5 months earlier, was the last to cook a meal in this kitchen. Cooking was something we both really enjoyed but I haven’t felt like cooking much lately. Maybe after tonight and smelling the aromas, I’ll cook more. I’m going to go wash up for dinner, smells great, I’ll be right back.” Walking out of the kitchen towards the hallway, I could see Rachel following him, trying to console him.
“How touching! He really loved her, didn’t he?! She really loves him too but why is she still here?” I said under my breath, I didn’t want him to hear but found it odd that it was the first time he had mentioned her.
Watching the two of them walk down the hall, I said to my mom, “I will have to find out more.”
“Now, now, don’t go poking your head where it isn’t needed.” Mom warned me, as I slipped out of the kitchen to plot my next move.
Washing up for dinner, I stood, staring at my reflection in the mirror and started asking God to help me. I don’t know why but I was really moved to help this couple out. Clearly, they were both still hurting from this tragic loss. I planned on bringing it up again during dinner.
Once we were all seated and started enjoying our home cooked meal, I asked Dan to tell me a little bit about his wife. “If you don’t mind talking about it, can you tell me about your wife?” I boldly asked, as my mother tried to hush my question.
“Now Sheri, that’s not nice to ask, maybe Dan doesn’t want to speak about it right now. We are all so sorry for your loss.” My mother scolded me for asking.
“It’s OK, I am sure Sheri is innocent in asking. It’s not like I can’t talk about it, it’s just all still so new to me. Rachel, my wife, and I had been together since childhood. We both knew from a young age that we were ‘it’ for each other.”
Dan went on, as we all sat in awe of his bravery.
“When she became sick we did everything known to Medical Science to save her, but we knew it was over just months after being diagnosed. The cancer had spread to her brain and was rapidly moving through her body. We decided she would stay here, in our house, until her last day. Which was just 5 months and 5 days ago.”
Looking around at all of our saddened faces, Dan then said, “It would do her good to see all your happy faces here. We always talked about having children but it never happened for us. She was the Love of my life.”
Tears began to stream down his face as he tried to smile at us all. “I’m sorry, if you would please excuse me. Please eat, I’ll be back in just a moment.”
Dan got up and walked into the hallway leading to the master bedroom. Rachel appeared right behind him as he walked into the bedroom.
“That’s it!” I half whispered as everyone at the table turned to look at me. They all looked at me and said, “What?” Not sure what all to tell them, I just whispered, “That’s why he is so sad all the time.”
“Yes, that’s why. Now that you have upset everyone, finish your dinner.” Mom responded.
It was like a light went off in my head. My thoughts began to show me visions of how I could help both Rachel and Dan. It was a connection I had never seen before. Seeing these ghosts was to do more than just witness them repeating the way they died, but also to help those who remain living.
Dan re-joined us at the table, Rachel right alongside him. I looked at Rachel and inside my head, I asked her if she was happy where she was. Has she seen God yet? Her reply was not surprising, she said, “No, I am sadder here without Dan. He is so unhappy and I want to comfort him. I find no God in this place.”
Trying to fill my words with compassion, I said to her, “You must look for God, you will be happier and Dan will be able to be happy again, once you do.”
“How do I find God?” She questioned me.
In my thoughts I asked her, “Do you see that light above you? I am pulling it towards you, but you have to step through and be released of all this sadness.”
Moving her head as if to look up, she stated, “I see it. It feels so warm and loving.”
As I turned my head to look in the direction of the light, I could see her spirit merging and moving through the hole in the ceiling.
I looked one more time and Rachel was gone. Dan’s whole body gave a shudder, as if he felt something move around him.
“Are you OK?” I asked, concerned for his well-being.
“Yeah, yes, I am fine. It just felt like a warm breeze blew through the house. But yes, I am good. This is great lasagna. Could you please pass the garlic bread?” He asked me.
Handing him the bread I noticed he looked lighter, as if a thousand bricks had been removed from his shoulders.
To be continued…
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