Sometimes I conjure up the dead. Not in that new age sorta way, but inmemory. I just sit down and remember faces, smiles, words and voices from people who aren’t with me anymore. My paternal grandfather: wisps of white hair, freckled skinned. Every wrinkle burned in memory. The way I was half disgusted with his breakfast routine – the gnawing on the brown sugar stump and the sipping – slurping? – of his coffee.
I don’t feel sadness when I think of them. I just need to hear their voices again in order to remember how real they were. That they existed before they didn’t. That’s a hard concept. To exist and then not to exist. If I believed in a heaven, they’d exist somewhere else. In another dimension apart from this one.
The usual ghosts I conjure up are my grandparents. Sometimes, I reincarnate the dead within the living. A couple of weeks, maybe a month, after Joey passed away, I saw a man walking down the street while I was checking my mail. His walk reminded me of Joey. At the distance he was at, I thought it was Joey. I don’t wave – I never do – but suddenly my memory snaps forth and it can’t be Joey. Even though I didn’t see his body in the casket – I only attended the mass for his funeral – I remembered he wasn’t with us anymore.
I imagine my cousin Damien, images of him strumming the guitar weeks before he died. Sometimes I hold conversations with people who have passed. In dreams, mostly. I talk to Teddy in my dreams sometimes. I have to attempt to recreate him, older…the age he would’ve been had he not died our senior year in high school. It’s probably why I liked “The Lives of the Dead” the final story in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.
Recreating them is always a problem. I’m no longer the 17-year-old that I was when he died. Teddy stopped growing up. His personality is at a standstill. The stoner. The slick kid. The class clown. The guy everyone loved.
There’s probably more I want to say. I can’t remember, though.