Talking to the Dead

Dead men like to sleep, but I have found a way of waking them from their forever slumber. The method is simple and easy, but there is always a price to pay to talking to ghosts, a cost that must be paid, not necessarily in dollars or cents, but in sanity and anguish. And one must decide, before the vault is open, what is the deposit they are willing to put inside the bank, forever gone away, like the person they plan on speaking to, once the admission is paid. Not all dead men are dead, some are merely gone away, away to a place of their own choosing, but all are out of sight, yearning to be seen in the light of our day again sometime.

The method of my séance is simple. Open the phone, scroll down the list of names and numbers of those I have spoken to in the present and those I have spoken to in the past. The list of friends and family that have last words attached to the number I used to speak to them. From the “see you laters” to the “we can’t talk anymore”, the list of the living will soon merge with the names of the dead, as I scroll further down the graves of past conversations. My phone is a cemetery of thoughts and words, the names simply tombstones of conversations left alone, frozen in time, waiting for a visit.

Finally, I hit the bottom, the end of the road, the part that tells me that no man can go past the past, because the past is now here, in front of me,  in the form of a name. I hit the name and the message appears, the last one, the final words spoken to me, although not the final ones spoken by him on his last day. I return to this grave annually to pay my respects, to see one more time that this was a real person, that had a real role in my life, and that the realness never really goes away, even if the person behind it did. 

The final words are simple, just like the final words of the others that I passed to get to this point of my past. If only we know that the last words were the last words, would we say something different, something more profound and more poetic? How often can we look back at the last text and realize that it truly was the last text, the final words of a chapter that we were not ready to close, a book that had finally been returned to the grand library.  The words we write are of our own making, until we make them theirs, and the marriage of a conversation continues until it doesn’t. But some dances continue on, waiting for the next song to play, while some simply leave the dance early, not able to finish what we hoped they started. A chance to grow old with us, a chance to continue the dance, the conversation for years past the point where it stopped, to let the message of love and comfort carry on, void of pause and pain. 

I look back and see the words, the time, the date, and the name attached to it all, and visualize the face that wrote them. I go up one spot and see the same of the ex girlfriend that is no longer with us, gone at her own doing, just months after that last message. And then the funeral procession continues, the names of people that I haven’t spoken to in years, then in months, and finally days. The list of last words of the living that I hope will not become the last words of the dead. We don’t know when those last words will be, so I look and see what I wrote and wonder if I am happy with what I said, and wonder if the dead me is satisfied with that final sentence, or should the living me do more to say more and make that final message better, more loving, more powerful, just in case it really is the end of the message forever. 

Sometimes I want to send a message, to see what happens. But the truly dead are dead, and so to get a new message from a new person that has an old number would only make the goneness of the gone truly real. I just allow myself believe that they are still away, on a vacation, busy living, until we meet again when my living is done and we can carry on the conversation, two ghosts talking about the times when they weren’t ghosts.

The final message may be all we have, the last text may be the only connection to the past we may or may not be wanting to see sail away on the ship leaving the harbor, on its way to another beautiful place. But messages are what they are, simply the end of a thought, no one really thinking they will be the end of a life. But I see it, I have them, on my phone that I carry, my portable graveyard, the final words of people that have come and gone, some by death, and others gone by life, and I am sad to see them all pass, gone from my life but not from my phone.  I know some are simply a reply away, while others are gone for good, and I wonder what they will think of my words if that is the last thing they possess of me? Will they read them and smile? Or will they read them and say the worst thing a living person can say to a dead one, “I wish I would have told them”, that they thought they had more time to make the sentence whole rather than spurt just a few words and leave the relationship wondering?

Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words may forever haunt me, especially if those words are void of the true feelings that should have been attached to them. We say what we think, we text what we think, but the feelings are sometimes left alone, in a place that doesn’t see the light of day or the light of a screen. Say what you want to say, play the hand, go all in. The last message you write may be the last message you write, so what do you want the receiver to know about you if that is all they have left of you? What if you had one last text to write, what if you already sent it? Did you say all that you wanted to, or will you leave this world with the sin of wishing you would have said more?

Tick Tock