"Oh, screw you, you crazy sonofabitch. Your opinions don't matter anymore."
Of course, I didn't get an answer, at least not an audible one. Yes, I talk to a ghost these days, but it seems like I'm in a more lengthy and tense conversation lately, as I work through yet another round of trying to re-claim this house. The good sign, I guess, is that I didn't get an audible answer. Another good sign, as I lay there, with my head in an impossible position, under the school desk, and blindly worked my hands into position to finish snipping the snares of zip-ties and industrial-strength, double-sided tape, the absurdity of it all hit me and I giggled. I worked for a bit longer, unscrewing the bolted-in armor of wires, power-supplies and brackets that Andre had used in his 100-year-installations in the former schoolroom... and then, still sweaty and dusty, I posted a naughty-sounding update on Facebook about all the "fun" I was having, flat on my back on the schoolroom floor.
(And you thought that opening paragraph was leading someplace else, admit it. )
But it hasn't been much "fun" at all. Not that it hasn't been good, I guess. It seems like a breath of fresh air for me and for the kids to see the dark, cluttered room full of computers and schoolbooks transformed into a wide-open table-space for crafts and sewing: boxes of paints, clay, colored pencils, paper, fabric, popsicle sticks, glue guns... all stacked neatly on shelves that used to hold workbooks and assigned reading. The incessant hum of three e-waste-dump frankensteined computers has been replaced with the sound of a ticking clock and the odd mixture of Steven Curtis Chapman, Brooklyn Tabernacle, and Asleep at the Wheel that my Pandora station plays on the single computer left in the space.
As I work toward re-claiming this house from years of dysfunctional energy, and the chaos of the last three months (yes, it will be three months tomorrow), I find myself ever more vividly confronting Andre's ghost: not a Hollywood-style, corporeal ghost, or something neon-green and misty to call the rheumy-eyed, dangly-earring-wearing spirit communicators about: just an unhappy presence, an echo of being told that I'm doing it wrong, a complaining, condemning, guilt-producing presence. And so I've been talking back, sometimes kindly, "sorry, sweetie. You're dead now and you can't control this anymore", and sometimes with a bit more bite: "Screw you. You don't live here anymore and you can't have it your way."
My "corner" in the master bedroom, the place that had been my sacred space for writing, and my productive place for work, has been moved downstairs to a corner of the family room in which I can enjoy the morning sunshine, and participate in the life of the family in the evenings. I could no longer stand to spend my editing time (my paid work) and my writing time (my heart's work) in that now-defiled corner of the master bedroom, sitting just inches from where Andre's life spilled out of him, into the carpet and the floorboards. No amount of expert crime-scene clean-up and heartfelt volunteer interior re-decorating has been able to clear away the sad energy of that spot.
Having lost my own father when I was 13, and having watched my mother begin her journey of widowhood at age 48 (yes, feel free to cue the Twilight Zone music at the eerie parallel between her life and mine), I thought I was pretty savvy to what this turn in the path might look like.
If my father's ghost hovered in our house back then, I'm SURE that my mother did not use the kind of language that I use in my ghost-busting. I'm sure he was welcomed for as long as Mom needed him to stay, and that he floated off as she was able to let him do so.
I have a feeling that I will be needing every tool I can find to help usher-out my tortured late husband and deal with (and help my kids deal with) his complex legacy.
Re-arranging and de-cluttering my house is a start. The slower work is doing that same process in my heart and soul.
Like the signs say at the mall,when one store closes and a new one is coming in: