I've been keeping company with ghosts this week. Saturday will mark the 19th anniversary of my father's death, and he's been hanging around quite a bit this week. We were never really close when he was alive but I feel his presence often now. He died before I ever got the chance to get to know the man, rather than the father. I blogged about it on Fathers' Day.
Three other ghosts kept me company this week. A few days ago, I attended the Christmas show of the Waterloo Potters' Guild. I love handmade things, and the potters in our area are a talented bunch. I was on a mission to pick up some Christmas gifts, and replace a couple of the pottery mugs that had been broken over the course of the year. As I wandered the aisles, my eyes grew teary because of the presence of a few people that I had lost to cancer...or their spiritual presence anyway.
I saw a dragonfly in pottery and immediately thought of my friend Andrea, who fought hard to the end. http://lisamaccoll.blogspot.com/2008_08_01_archive.html. I have a similar dragonfly hanging in my home, purchased the year Andrea died. It's a constant reminder of my feisty and courageous friend.
This time last year, I ran into my friend Julianne's mom Edelgard at the show. She loved pottery, and their home was filled with it. She was looking healthy and was laughing with friends over a shared joke. She had had a hard battle with breast cancer, and seemed to be on the other side of it...or so we thought. She was keeping a secret at the time; she'd already received the news that the cancer had returned and it was terminal. She didn't want to burden her family with that news at Christmas. We lost her in June this year. A warm, no nonsense person, a passionate reader, a teacher and a loving woman, I felt her presence acutely. I miss our chats on the phone when I phone to talk to Julianne. I would often stand visiting with her in the hall as I was leaving after visiting Julianne. I half expected to see her amongst the pots and platters, laughing and chatting with her friends. I miss her.
And finally, the presence of one person brought the tears to my eyes. Marguerite Szozda was a master potter, a true craftsperson, a generous spirit and someone I was glad to call my friend. Last year, she was in the final stages of cancer, but still had a booth at the show. She had mentored many of the younger potters, and they had promised her that they would tend her booth for her. They were as good as their word; her booth was immaculate, well displayed and never left unattended. The other potters told people about the remarkable woman whose hands had formed the bowls, pots and snowman tealight holders. I couldn't afford to buy one of her snowmen the previous year; last year, I couldn't afford not to. When I took the snowman to the cash, the person ringing through the order told me to "take special care of the snowman, because it was made by a very special person who was much loved." I confirmed her assessment, advising that I know Marguerite well. We lost her a couple of weeks before Christmas last year.
This year, Marguerite's husband, John, was working alone behind the scenes. He was putting boxes together, tidying displays, and helping out where he was needed...just like always. He and Marguerite were a team and it broke my heart to see him there alone. Marguerite would have approved. The other potters were joking and laughing with him, and I'm sure he took comfort being where he and Marguerite had spent so much time together. It gave him comfort; it broke my heart. He spotted me at the cash and came to say hello, and it was all I could do to keep the tears at bay. The ache in my heart was nothing to what his must have been.
And so I walk with my ghosts. I believe that the people who matter most to us don't leave us when they die, and we can feel their presence around us, and they continue to love, support and guide us. It might not jive with traditional Christian teachings, but I simply cannot believe that love dies when the body does. So I walk with my ghosts, I welcome their presence and although I miss their earthly presence, I continue to feel their love. The body will die; the love will live forever.