I said it out loud.
I sensed his presence the second I walked into the bathroom. I still walked around to make certain the moment wasn’t just a fleeting manifestation of my mind. Then I leaned back on the counter top and spoke. When I heard my voice break the silence as it echoed off the tile, I instantly became self-conscious and felt absolutely silly for attempting to talk to “no one,” or to myself for that matter.
I knew he would be coming. A close friend of ours had just come home from the hospital, and he had called to tell me they had been visited the night before. Apparently their cat noticed him first. Even days before, I seemed to notice a few other “signs” as well. Little things. I attributed it to him just making his rounds, exercising his “visitation rights” to quote another friend. She used that phrase to described those moments when they (or the memory of them) come and take everything you have.
I’ve been through many of those moments. They usually happen in the same place and I usually react the same way. Those moments are different from just a quick flash or the pause I’d give to passing memory… it’s when the air changes, becomes thick and gives me an undeniable sensation that I am not alone. I didn’t ask for this, it’s just what happens. I’m not even sure what I truly believe in this spiritual regard, but I don’t try to understand it, either. So when I walked into the bathroom on this occasion, I was sure he was there. I was certain. Absolutely positive. I just felt it all the way through me. Of course, it very well could have just been all my internal emotions coming to a head, and I had only been noticing these “signs” because I needed to work through some pent up emotions. And typically I would get emotional, upset even, sit down on the floor and cry. This time was different for me, though. This time it felt like putting on an old t-shirt, casual and comfortable. I’ve been here, I thought, we’ve been here. Many times actually. No matter where I’ve moved since his death, most of my “visits” have been here. The bathroom? Yeah, I know… the bathroom.
It actually makes a lot of sense. And trust me, I so wish I were kidding about this. But nonetheless, it was a simple fact of our relationship: the bathroom was kind of “our place.” He and I had spent many, many hours sitting on the floor of various bathrooms — in apartments, rent houses, in hotels, his parents house, and mostly in the house we eventually owned as our own — the house where we brought home our little girl. We would spend HOURS hashing through whatever issue was at hand — from money to moving and career choices to kid stuff. We would just keep talking until we’d finally convince ourselves that we had solved whatever problem we were having and could venture back out into the furnished world.
I remember (how could I forget?) that on a momentous trip to see a band he managed play a big show in London, and despite covert operations to buy a ring and a multi-person coordination of an on-stage mid-performance proposal — he blew it the night before. Where? You guessed it… the bathroom. I’m not sure if the ring was burning a hole in his pocket, if he was too nervous to follow through with the public proposal, or if it was that post-coital, brains-to-penis moment that inspired him to follow me into the bathroom of our hotel room, and with no hesitation whatsoever — ask me to marry him while I was sitting on a beautiful European toilet. I’m not kidding. He got down on one knee and everything. On the tile. Of the bathroom.
I don’t even know if he was even dressed, but I do remember laughing and saying, “Really? You’re asking me to marry you right now?” Trust me I loved him with all my heart, but this was not really how a girl envisions getting proposed to. I had no doubt he would be my husband, but at the time, I was in no hurry — so I had always said I wanted him to ask me whenever he was ready. I just couldn’t believe that he would wait six years and finally be ready at that moment. When I have toilet paper in my hands. So after accepting — and wiping — I immediately made him aware of the fact that I was going to have to explain to our grandchildren that their “grandpa asked me to marry him while I was sitting on the pot.” Not really romantic. Ah well… he was still mine. And that’s how we rolled.
The day he died was a week before Christmas. He and our daughter had gone to stay at my mom’s house, waiting for me to arrive later that week. After one unsuccessful night of a snoring man trying to share the guest room with a toddler, he accepted the offer to sleep at the next door neighbor’s house. The neighbors were out of of town. The house was beautiful and had recently been put on the market. He’d have more freedom than being at my mother’s house…. so sure, he accepted. But when they tried to call him the next morning, when they tried knocking at the door and got nothing… the Realtor eventually unlocked the door, and my stepdad went in and found him. Lying down, on his back, in his pajamas…. in the bathroom.
As much as I had wanted to write some poetic verses about all of this — you know, to keep somewhat in line with my previous posts — the subject matter just didn’t seem to lend itself well. (It was tough finding more words to rhyme with commode.) So I figured I would just tell it as it happened for me. Which brings me back to the other night and walking into an episode of The Ghost Whisperer. It was a unique visit in that it felt so much stronger than ever before. I was so overwhelmed by the energy that it caught my breath and made me take a seat on the side of the bathtub. It was intense, but not sad. It was overwhelming, but not uncomfortable. For the first time, I absorbed the moment without breaking down into tears. For the first time, I just sat there in the moment with him… and I enjoyed the company. It only lasted a few minutes, but it felt like I had sat with an old friend for hours. And I knew he was here — in the bathroom — just checking in on me, making sure I was okay.
I knew I didn’t really have to say anything at all. I knew he could feel it: I’m doing just fine.