The Happy Phantom

Tom9I had my first “I need to show Tom this…” moment yesterday. I know there will be many more and some will feel worse than others, but surprisingly, it didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would. It was like accidentally brushing a healing wound you forgot about for a moment– a sharp pang of pain to remind you you’re not completely whole yet and then relief after you become mindful of its protection again. My heart kicked my head to tell me, “Remember, you’re not in the same place anymore… it will be okay”

Of course, it’s not really so surprising I forgot; I’d been steeped in things Tom all day. I was visiting my Aunt Charlotte with mom and my younger brothers and Charlotte had us looking through his fine collection of hawaiian shirts and tea services. I had already grabbed my two favorite shirts and was wearing one while Char and I went through Tom’s teas and my brothers looked through the rest of his shirts in the other room with my mom and Jeanine. Charlotte suddenly remembered Tom’s wicker stetson, put it on my head and said I should keep it, so I walked back into the living-room to show the others and ask how it looked. Jeanine burst into tears. She caught me entering the room only from the corner of her eye and since I’m Tom’s height and build and I move like him she thought she saw a ghost! We had a laugh after I agreed not to wear it until she was more used to the idea. It was a comforting visit, albeit bittersweet.

Bittersweet comfort: That’s been my experience with this grief so far. I miss him. I miss him so very much, but he lived a gorgeous life and shared so much of it with me. He left behind great beauty. He touched so many friends and brought most of them into my life, too. He had as good a death as I could hope for. Remembering his life is sweet for me, there’s just no denying it even though It’s bitter coping with the fact that today, we live apart. Still, Tom left me (and all of us) with as much comfort as he could and I relish every ounce of it! Thank you God. Thank you Tom.

I believe he had a good death and I believe he’s in a better place. I can’t know of course until it’s my turn, but we had plenty of long conversations about life, the universe, and everything and we agreed on most things spiritual. I think he was able to let go himself in the end and allow God to take him where He needed him to be. I think of Tom as a “happy phantom” now ala Tori Amos:

And if I die today I’ll be the happy phantom
And I’ll go chassin’ the nuns out in the yard
And I’ll run naked through the streets without my mask on
And I will never need umbrellas in the rain
I’ll wake up in strawberry fields every day
And the atrocities of school I can forgive
The happy phantom has no right to bitch

His soul is finally free from his body and I’m certain Tom is taking full advantage of it. If there’s anything that could interfere with the joy of being perfectly free and with his Maker, it would only be that we’re all longing to share it with him. I’m sure he’s more patient than I am now, but we WILL all be together soon and on THAT day all the bitterness will be gone.


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