October 31, 2016

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Steve is writing this, very tired in the evening of Halloween. Do you think I will comment on topical things? That isn't what I prompted Steve to start for.

Awhile back, I kept urging Steve to buy a year's bound volume of the British "Penny Magazine," from the year of our marriage, 1836. It was inexpensive, but he was reluctant since those magazines really just had interesting articles about, well, things you'd learn in school. Sort of like "National Geographic" with etchings instead of photographs; and not as big.

But he did buy it, and when he started looking through the issues, he had the feeling--"Didn't we used to look at the drawings? And didn't we used to play games with them, and tell stories with them, just the two of us?" One game we played, he felt, was that we would take turns looking ever-more closely at the drawing--noticing detail after detail, trying not to be the one who couldn't find one more detail in it. Always, there was something we hadn't noticed, before. And trying to figure out why it was there. Oh, that sketch of an Alpine house; why are those large rocks piled up against one side? And why is the man blowing his horn--who is meant to hear it? And what, perchance, does it sound like? Where do they milk the cows? And who is the person in the distance, to the herder? On, and on--it could get quite humorous.

And then, Steve felt we played another game--we took turns developing a story based on the picture. Here, when we finish this--or perhaps tomorrow--Steve will photograph this one, below. There is a couple, there, standing and talking in front of the ruined Abbey. How did they come to be there? Are they lovers? Are their families forbidding them to meet? And what are they saying?

So we would make up the dialogue; and we'd get lost in it, you see. We might be sitting outside under a tree; or (after we were married), in bed playing footsie; and we'd completely forget where we were, in that story.

Granted, it was a different time. We had no television, no radio, no telephone, no internet. We had each other, and we had our minds. We needed very little! And, after all, we were very much in love.

Now, why do I share something so personal? Steve has been trying to remember his dreams, as exercise for his mind, to learn how to go back and forth between states of consciousness. He is realizing that his glimpses of his past life, as Mathew, are not just fanciful. That's because he has been able to prove quite a few of them. This, too, is real. We really did look at these images in this magazine, and make up stories, together, or play games with them. These memories are real.

When Steve attempts to play the songs I used to play on the piano (or as they called it in our day, the "piano-forte"), he remembers, in his heart and his emotions, the ones he loved the best. I helped him find that songbook, as well. Steve is learning how to sight-read with it, as I pressed him to do; but as he haltingly plays the introduction to a few of them, he remembers what it felt like for me to play them. But the first thing he remembered, in his heart, was what it felt like for him to try to play them, after I had died. How bittersweet! Overwhelming, those feelings. He has had to learn to reclaim the sweetness of them, by sharing them with me again, now. That's right--what need grief, if we can pick up where we left off, when I was alive, and share them, again! Except now, he has to try to play them. I was quite skilled in music. So Steve can only get a "whiff" of how I made them sound. He loved when I played piano for him; and I loved to play for him.

Our marriage was like that. We were a world in ourselves; and our world was enough. But then there was service to mankind. Had we been selfish, and kept our bliss to ourselves, we could have lived to a ripe old age together! But there is suffering human-kind to consider; and the world is harsh when you try to succor those in need.

But death is not final. You are not that fragile body. Use it as the temple of the spirit that it is; always keep this in view. Use it as your vehicle to serve others. Then it will not trap you. Grief will lose much of its sting. At the very least, grief will not crush you. When your beloved smiles, it is the soul that is shining. It is not the muscles, nor the eyeballs in their sockets. But we cannot constantly remind ourselves of that! So, we naturally come to experience the person as their body, and to that measure, we suffer. But if you keep the truth in the back of your mind--yes, I love his smile, but it is really his soul that is smiling--then, it won't crush you. It may bruise you, but it won't crush you.

When I died, Mathew wasn't sure. He had half a foot in the skeptical world, and half a foot in the believer's world. And so he was crushed despite himself.

Well, if we make that right, doing what we are doing now, isn't that our right? Because we dip into the same well of creativity that we drew from when we were married in 1836, you see. That creativity we brought to those etchings, which absorbed us for hours, we now use to find ways to communicate, to be together, even under these challenging circumstances. One partner having "died" is a challenging circumstance. So, you get to work and figure out how to master it.

People in this day and age will apply untold intellect, resourcefulness, and genius to make a machine work. But they give up the minute they are separated by death. Why? Why should soulmates, in particular, be satisfied with a reassurance, a sign, a contact through a medium? Why should love let a mere thing like death get the better of it?

Well, we certainly won't. You folks can believe what you want, and limit your options if you want to. Not us.

Love to each and all,
Abby