Just finished this piece for the Fractured Memories series yesterday. As you know, the elephant is a symbol for my dad and dementia, but let me back up for a second and explain something else. This is intensely personal, so please keep an open heart. I’m not really what you would call a believer. I was raised Christian, but wouldn’t call myself that now. I’ve studied other religions, and none really hit the nail on the head, though some Buddhist teachings seem close, and since I don’t have proof of anything, I guess what I’d have to call my thoughts on the afterlife are, maybe, “suspicions.” Based on my readings, and some compelling research coming out of UVa, I think reincarnation is one of the possibilities. I think we have a soul, which is energy, and that that energy can have different things happen to it when our bodies die. Sometimes it goes into some kind of collective, sometimes it gets reincarnated, sometimes it gets trapped in between and that’s where reports of things like ghosts come in. These are just my thoughts, and I’m not solid on them since, again, I have no proof of anything, so I’m not looking for a religious debate here. You are welcome to believe whatever you want and I won’t try to change your mind, this is just what feels true to me.
I also think that our souls are sometimes linked. I think soul mates might exist, but not in the romantic sense. In one life, you could be your soul mate’s best friend, in another, an uncle, in another, a wife. It’s a genderless thing and is fluid, but your lives will somehow continue to be connected. One of the reasons I believe this, is that I’ve had several instances over the last 2 years of something happening to my dad up in VA (choking incident, pneumonia, injury, possible stroke) that coincided with me having a panic attack down in NC even though I didn’t know anything had happened to him. Of the 5 panic attacks I’ve had, 4 have happened at the time when something traumatic was happening to him, and I only found out the next day. My dad and I have always been exceptionally close, and I think he could be my soul mate. Again, this is not a romantic thing. I think our energies are just linked somehow. I know this sounds very new age-y, and that’s not generally my thing (I’m not going to join a commune and dress only in hemp skirts), but this has been feeling truer and truer as I’ve gotten older. I could be totally wrong and I fully admit that. But it helps me cope with life, so let me keep my delusions.
So with that in mind, here’s what this piece is about. I like to imagine that, when my dad seems less present in a moment, a piece of his soul is off wandering. Maybe crossing over to the collective for a bit, or checking in with a loved one. Maybe in those moments when I feel his presence even though he’s far away, it’s because his soul, or energy, or whatever you want to call it, really is here with me. I love the thought that when he seems less with it, it’s because he’s floating free wherever his soul needs to be at that moment. As his brain deteriorates, his soul is less tethered to it and is free to wander. He’s carried off to someplace else, and eventually he’ll be carried off completely to whatever the next phase for him will be.