Aunt Sadie was always strange according to my father, but to me Sadie was wonderful. The day she died I knew, I heard her voice first when I was sitting quietly in the conservatory. I looked up and there she was at the end of the garden, stroking the pussy willow just as she always did. She had been poorly and I knew she was dead, she wouldn’t have got there unaided. She had no shoes on her feet, her red wavy hair was untied and she was wearing an emerald green dress I hadn’t seen in years. It had never occurred to me before then that you could wear what you liked when you were dead. Sadie has told me since that you can be any age you like too, but I’m jumping ahead of myself here. Anyway that was the day I started to talk to dead people.
From a young child Sadie was my favorite person in the world, she didn’t act like the other grown-ups, she pleased herself. My father, her brother, despaired that his sister might influence his daughter in some way. Sadie was full of stories, she collected them and wrote them down in journals she kept by her bed. She told me once that there was energy in stories and when you recounted an experience and turned it into a story with meaning you were helping the world turn around and adding your own sparkle to the stars.
There were times I will admit that I did get a little scared of Sadie’s eccentricity, like when she would start to talk to someone but there was no one in the room. The temperature always seemed to drop a little on these occasions but Sadie told me there was nothing to worry about, like attracts like and if you were a good person then that is what you would attract. After she died when she started to visit me I kept this in mind when she brought along her new friends. It wasn’t long before I would meet these people without her being present, like when I was shopping in town and a lady waved from across the street. It took me a minute to realise but when I looked a little closer I could see she was not quite there. It is like looking at someone through a net curtain, you loose a bit of them, but can see them at the same time. I can turn it off and on now. I worried at first in case I would be disturbed in the shower but I can control it, although if anyone really wants to talk they will make something happen to alert me. Like a dish falling over on the dresser, a book falling off the shelf that you know was tucked in securely or a window blowing open on a calm day.
I don’t mind the interruptions to my life so much now, it’s like having a whole new circle of friends. Not like the friends on facebook and twitter but friends you actually meet in person. What is more than that I have found my vocation.
Sadie’s funeral was perfect, just like she wanted it. She told me just how it should be and to be sure, she was sitting in the room with the family when the priest visited, whispering instructions in my ear. He asked that we say a little about Sadie’s life for the service. My father was dumbfounded when I was able to recall events as if I had been there, but it did make for a great day. Sadie was sitting next to me at the front of the church and clapped and cheered when I read the eulogy just right and as we had practiced. Okay, there were some confused looks when I curtsied but I didn’t mind as Sadie was happy and it was her day after all. The music too was perfect and Sadie danced with the others as the curtains closed on her coffin to the tunes she had chosen.
After Sadie’s funeral I started a small business of arranging services myself, they are celebrations of life rather than funerals. I sit with the family and we talk to the deceased, ask them how it should be on the day. Plans usually move quite quickly once I can provide evidence through the memories of the person, that they are in fact there. I’m amazed at how quickly my little business has taken off and how my name seems to have got around without advertising. What is important to me is that the real story is told and from the person who knows it best, who lived it. What is also great is how people are able to express their love to each other and know it is heard.
I’m busy enough but as more people have heard about what I do they are realising the importance of involving the dying in their celebration planning before death. I’m sometime invited along to help tell the stories, but not always. People who feel they have little control over the end of their life are now able to take the lead if they wish in a small way. Choose what flowers they like, have the very best photographs around and invite the friends they want to be there.
Sadie does still visit and she is always around if I need her but it is not as often now, she is getting on with being there. She tells me it is wonderful and she is not seen as strange there, but not to hurry myself as I have work to do and stories to tell.