In 1996, my beloved brilliant older son committed suicide at the age of 25. Our family has been devastated by this, but we have been coping. He has seen fit to make a few "visits" to various family members over the years, one of which is chronicled elsewhere on this site.The visits are reassuring, but many questions still persist about why such a wonderful vital person ever he felt that he needed to do what he did.
Recently, I went to San Diego, the city where he died, to visit a friend on an unrelated matter. I had briefly thought of driving by the old turn-of-the-century Craftsman house where my son and his roommates used to live, but then decided that (a) I didn't remember exactly where the house was anymore, and (b) after six years, maybe it would be too morbid and obsessive to stop by his old place ... and what would I learn there anyway?
In this hyper-rational frame of mind, I turned off the freeway and began following the directions I had from Map quest to help find my friend's new address. The directions involved a lot of twists and turns in an older part of the city, and at one point, I lost my way. Just as I was thinking, "This neighborhood looks familiar ... sort of like my son's old neighborhood", I came to a "T" intersection.
And I realized I was staring down Rick's old driveway, looking directly at the big porch which was the last place on this Earth where I had hugged, kissed, and held my beautiful handsome son while he was still alive. I was not imagining it. This was my son's old house.
Shaken, I proceeded to my friend Kelly's new address, which turned out to be right around the corner from Rick's old house, not seven doors away. Kelly could tell that I was shaken, and she made me a cup of tea and urged me to tell her the story. She had never known Rick while he was alive.
Kelly explained that she was also something of a "White Witch", and suggested that I had been led, against my more rational urgings, to find the house for a reason. She thought we should return to Rick's old house to do a little seance, since "energies around the house might hold some answers for me".
So we went out into the bright sunny afternoon (not very seance-like!) and walked down to the house. It took awhile before I could walk up on that porch. For a long time, I just stood, looking down the garden at the side of the house at the window that used to be his. I remember thinking to my son's spirit, "If, for any reason, you still hang around here, I wish you peace, but I hope you visit me, at least for a few minutes. And anything you could do to 'flesh out' the story of why we lost you, I would appreciate it, son."
Finally we went up onto the porch (thank God the people who now owned the house were off at work -- I don't know how we would have explained our presence to them!), and I sat down in exactly the same place I'd stood the last time my son and I hugged, the place we'd said "Goodbye" and "I love you" for the last time.
Kelly went into a trance and began telling me that she saw him, and he was standing right behind me, wringing his hands and saying he was sorry. At that point as she spoke, I felt a little breeze on the back of my neck. Maybe a coincidence - it was an open porch - but maybe not.
Kelly then went on to tell me that my son was telling her that he had naively dabbled in some serious crime, hoping to make some quick money, so he could open his own music club and bar. She told me a detailed story of illegal intrigues, financial double crosses, some misunderstandings with powerful people in town, threats to the people he loved, and all the fear and sense of failure that caused my son to decide a self-inflicted early death was his best and only option. It was all like something out of an Elmore Leonard book or a Quentin Tarantino movie. I wasn't sure whether to believe it. No one wants to imagine one's children getting mixed up in dirty dealings.
When Kelly had finished, she said that she could still see him standing there, asking forgiveness for having been so stupid as to get mixed up in the mess that cost him his life.
Of course I forgave him, and then I added, "Honey, I do believe that you exist in some form, and I know you can even "visit" once in awhile, but I just miss you. It kills me to know that I cannot hug or kiss or touch you, ever again. I still need to touch you sometimes, and I can't."
Kelly said, "He's crying. But he's got an idea. He'll send you a messenger." At that very moment, a darling calico cat came charging out of the rosebushes, jumped up on the porch and ran to my lap! I was sitting on the planks of the porch, cross-legged, and this kitty wormed her way onto my lap, and began loudly purring and kneading and butting her head against me. She paid no attention to Kelly at all, but insisted on "loving me up" for about fifteen minutes, as only an affectionate cat on a mission can do.
Yes, I believe the kitty acted as a messenger to bring physical affection from my son to me at a time when I really needed it.
I felt several different burdens lift from me at that time, and since the session on the porch with Kelly and that cat, I have felt much more at peace with the dreadful circumstances of my son's mysterious suicide.
And, by the way, as far-fetched as the "gangland" scenario that Kelly laid out for me might have sounded, in the past few months several of the things she told me have been corroborated independently.
Young people, please don't mess with the "heavy hitters" in illegal activity in your town. Don't try to outsmart criminals. You may not have a happy ending. As charming as the sudden visit from the strange cat was, it's better to be able to stand and tell your mother that you love her, in your own flesh, and in your own voice.