Show Me A Sign
Shortly after Shel died, my friend Jenny brought me a candle shaped like a starfish. She told me that it came from Brazil and that it had been blessed by a shaman. I waited and wondered about when to burn it, and wondered whether it had any special powers, even though I’m not sure that I even believe in special powers.
This weekend I went camping at the coast with Eric and Jessica, and I’ll tell you more about that later. For now, I want to talk about the candle, and about Eric and Jessica. If you’re new to French Letters, Eric is Shel’s son, my step-son, although I think of him as my own. Our reason for being at the coast, I thought, was to be away from home on June 10, Shel’s and my 19th wedding anniversary. I wanted both to avoid and celebrate the day, in that complicated way that bereavement engenders. So we took the candle, and four regular votives to represent me, the two of them, and my son Jordan, our little family, with the starfish standing in for Shel, down onto the beach near sunset.
And of course, being us, we took a bottle of wine and some good cheese. We talked about Shel, and about love, and I cried more than I’d planned to. I said that 19 years ago we had said “so long as we both shall live,” and they reminded me that thus it had been. And I said to them that I so wished for a sign from Shel, because I hadn’t had a visitation, or a dream, or a vision, or any little thing that indicated that it wasn’t just a black hole into which he, and we all, disappear. And we watched the wind take the flames and still them, one by one, and we talked about how one day only one of us would be left, the last of us, until only one flame was left burning, and that one was Shel’s.
and have remained high on each other, even in the very lowest times, like while Shel was dying. So I don’t know whether it was the wine, or the candle, or the sand between our toes, or the realization that life is so terrifyingly short, as we watched one candle after another blow out in the gentlest of winds, but this happened.
Eric and Jessica got engaged, with a beach grass ring, and me as their witness. And Shel, of course, in the form of that Brazilian shaman-blessed candle. So now, June 10, the saddest day of the year since Shel left me, has taken on a new meaning, now it’s also the day of hope for a new life, a new family, a new commitment to love everlasting.
But back to that candle. As I left the park today, headed for home, knowing that Shel wouldn’t be there waiting for me, a russet-colored bunny appeared by the roadside, just by my car. And even though I’m not a person who talks to herself, I said aloud “Oh, bunny!” And as the words flew out of my mouth I realized how many times I had said exactly that, because, now that Shel’s not here to chastise me for telling you this, I used to call him bunny, my bunny, only in private, of course.
I suppose that bunnies are a dime a dozen in the park, although we didn’t see any other in the four days we were there. And maybe red-haired bunnies are a dollar a dozen, but the fact is that we burned that Brazilian candle in Shel’s name, and a red-haired bunny looked me right in the eye, and Eric and Jessica decided to marry and have children and begin a whole new family.
I guess that sometimes a candle is just a candle, just as sometimes a bunny is just a bunny. But possibly, sometimes, it’s more than that. Sometimes it’s a beach grass ring, and a kiss in the sand, and hope for a new life.