Erik has been changing up his game a little lately. Keeping us on our toes, I guess. While we were visiting relatives over Spring Break, Maria and Blanca, our once-a-week housekeepers, were busily packing up everything from our kitchen cabinets in preparation for the (gulp) remodeling that was to begin on our return. To give you a little back story, Maria is really part of the family. She has helped raise all of my children for the past 19 years, including Erik, since the age of 16 months. Without her, I would never had been confident enough to pour my heart and soul into the practice of medicine, leaving my children behind in the care of less capable hands. That said, she loves all of them deeply, and they feel the same about her.
Maria was in our home alone with Erik when he took his own life. She heard the gunshot. She delivered the tragic message through a phone call that is forever carved into our memories. She was the first to smell the fresh gunpowder, to see his lifeless body, and to weep at his feet.
While Maria and Blanca were boxing up mugs, pots, mateless mittens, dried up 300 year-old markers and god only knows what else, they both heard heavy footsteps upstairs, first in Erik’s bedroom, then down the hallway. In unison, they turned to face each other, mouths agape and eyes as wide as cup saucers. Before they could utter a word to one another, the footsteps sounded again. And again. And again. Mind you, they were all alone in the house. We have no herd of buffalo squirreled away in a closet, no troop of Lipizzaner horses practicing for the circus. It was just the two of them.
You’d think they both would have run screaming from the house, but there was a comfort in the air that eased them. So, they shook their heads with a smile on their faces that said, “you little rascally tease, you!” Erik was just playing with them as he typically would while alive. I’m sure he was also trying to relay a message to Maria that he is no longer the despondent boy she once knew. Instead, he is forever alive, free from pain, and eternally there to provide entertainment (and hopefully comfort) during her most tedious and thankless tasks.
When I relayed this story to my husband, Rune, he was dumbstruck for a few moments before saying, “You’re kidding! I’ve heard footsteps off and on for the last few weeks. I thought I was just going crazy!”
After sharing the experience with my daughter, Michelle, she also reacted in alarm. She said that a couple of nights ago, her sister-in-law, Amber, was babysitting my granddaughter, Arley, when she suddenly heard very distinct footsteps in one of the upstairs bedrooms of her house. When Amber told Michelle about the incident, she mused that it was odd the first person she thought of was Erik. After all, her grandmother had just died a few weeks ago. Why wouldn’t she have been first person to cross her mind?
I know that Erik is practicing his abilities diligently. My hope is that he continues to hone his skills to create a more tangible presence and therefore to provide all those who adore him with comforting assurance that he still lives (and plays) among us.