“Renée,” said a voice—a familiar voice.
It was my ex-husband’s voice calling me. I heard it while in a coffee shop bathroom only days before he died.
My daughter lost her father suddenly her first year of college. He died instantly of a heart attack at home. I recall picking her up from the library and racing to the hospital. It was too late—he was gone. He died before the paramedics arrived. An English exchange student was with him and waited at the hospital until we arrived.
Life in that moment was surreal. The ER unit, which I knew like the back of my hand, felt like a stage in which I was a mere player observing and playing my part.
Life in that instant changed for all of us.
There was so much I wanted and needed to say. So much that I felt needed to be resolved. I sunk to the floor as waves of shock flooded over me.
I told my daughter, “Everything is going to be okay.”
This is a line I will never say again.
My daughter returned to her studies shortly after her father’s funeral; it was a semester of classes all on death and dying. I took time off work and helped her daily, picking her up and dropping her off, and even staying and listening outside the door to the lectures.
I questioned how and why she had an entire course load that focused on death and grief.
It all felt like foreshadowing or some sick joke. But she persisted with her course load while caring for her own young child. Life as we knew it changed. Death, loss, and grief changed us.
I returned to work and saw him everywhere—such is grief. He sat outside my clinic and waved as I passed by. Grief does these things, this I know, however, I did not experience this with prior loses—at least not like this.
I kept thinking back to the day I heard him call my name. I had received some warning, but how, I do not know.
All I know is that the veil between life, death, and all that is between is closer than we know.
Some things we can not learn in books or university. The anthropology of love and the lessons of grief come slowly.
Love and forgiveness is the ultimate gift. And for this, I am grateful.
I do not have the answers, but I vow to be present and aware the next time I hear my name voiced by spirit.