Between 2009 and 2012, some pretty inexplicable shit happened in this apartment. That blazing candle when I returned from Cuba? Mystery strands of gray-and-black chest hair on my late husband’s laptop? His broken speakers that got unbroken? That 200-lb. armoire I was able to move?
The last inexplicable thing in this apartment happened in 2012 and lasted a few months. It was so simultaneously cliché and specific that I mentioned it to only a few girlfriends. It involved the remote-control lamp in the living room, which Alberto installed and was terribly proud of: Turn the house lights off without ever leaving bed? I am brilliant.
The lamp isn’t on a timer or an auto sensor: it’s controlled by a remote that lives in a container on my nightstand. There’s no reason the light should’ve been turning on and off—often while I was in the same room—but things like this happen when you remain in the apartment your husband died in, right?
Things like this haven’t happened for two years and while a part of me has missed those electrical hellos, the louder voice in my head reminds me that hey, I’m progressing through grief. And if doing the emotional work means I’m haunted less often, I’m OK with that.
So coming through the front door tonight, five plus years since his death, I am not expecting the remote-control light to be on. It’s neither his birthday nor deathiversary, but seeing this lighted lamp is the posthumous equivalent to seeing your husband’s keys on the foyer table: oh, he’s home.
Unlike a few years ago, I do not check the other still-dark rooms for further proof of the supernatural. I just smile, drop my keys on the foyer table and slip out of my shoes. I look around the apartment, trying to see it like someone who hasn’t visited in a while.
Setting aside science and reason for a sec, what would he have encountered if he stopped by tonight? A place setting for one on the dining room table. A day’s worth of dishes in the sink. Flung over a chair, the outfits I rejected before heading to tonight’s birthday party for Tumblr Lomalomarevamped. But also…the newly color-coordinated bookshelf. The rearranged foyer. Framed pictures of me with the daughter I met two years ago. A nearly completed To-Do list scrawled on the bathroom mirror.
Is it ridiculous that while I’m brushing my teeth, I allow myself no small sigh of relief that the light wasn’t on last Thursday night, when I did not come home alone? Is it also ridiculous that when I change out of tonight’s clothes I half hope that a pair of hands will inexplicably cup my breasts from behind? And that I’m disappointed when it doesn’t happen?
Ridiculous or not, I’m headed to bed shirtless and with that living room light still blazing. Because not-science.