What might ghosts return to earth to tell their living family members? Every heart, in every culture, has wondered this.
Lucky they, who breathe and walk yet on the earth, who feel the rain, see the sun rise and set, the moon hanging brightly in an autumn sky. Lucky they who yet knit their stories, who meet and marry, who suffer sleepless nights with newborns and older children, the ghosts sigh, returning when the veil becomes thin, six times a year in tradition. With an eye to the calendar I am reminded that Samhain draws nigh. Our daughter’s birthday, born at twilight of Samhain, a child who shares an affinity with the tender and the unseen, who can imagine a scene, a voice, as nimbly as though a spirit had whispered it all into her ear, whole and of a piece.
I stepped out of the Certosa one night last autumn and beheld a clear sky with pink tufts over the horizon. “Il cielo è affrescato!” the Italians cried when they saw the canvas unrolled across the heavens over the hills. An invisible hand had indeed frescoed the sky in wet plaster and delicate tints. So wet, so rainy, so cold had the day been, that the clear sky alone was enough of a reward. Even the rags of sky in their shades of blue and grey were enough. But the pink above it spoke of a greater generosity, something wholly unexpected, and which hours before seemed impossible.
The veil lifts and, when it does, wisdom is communicated without words. A feeling, an impulse, a moment of clarity. Benevolent ghosts love us and yearn only to help us. I welcome the ghosts whose memories lurk in my blood, move me to write, to uncover, to know. In imagining, I set the record straight. In loving them, I give them life. And thus revived and renewed, those sweet spirits lay me a banquet of dreams and love, imagination and bravery, where I dine every evening, on this side of the veil.