I believe in signs. You might call them co-incidences or wishful thinking.
It’s my first day in Budapest in 24 years. I’m learning how to live without Zoe. It’s a stiflingly hot central European summers day and I find the cafe in what was once a glamourous department store, with frescoed ceilings and gilded embellishments. It’s a cool dark respite from the blazing sunlit day and I’m drinking a home made lemonade. There’s a grand piano and the pianist starts playing Isn’t She Lovely. It’s the song I would put on and sing to Zoe while I danced around the house with her when she she was a refluxy baby who couldn’t sleep. It’s the song I told her was my song for her because she’s lovely. She replied it was her song for me because I’m lovely. It’s the song we played at the beginning of her funeral. I’m in the right place.
Other people tell me departed people they loved come to them in dreams. I desperately want Zoe to come to me. My mother has two vivid dreams/visions, one of my father, one of Zoe and her mother (Zoe’s great grandmother). I have just two dreams of Zoe. In the first one I am following her up a path through long grass. She is wearing her pink raincoat with cat ears on the hood. I can’t see her face. In the second one she is picking white flowers in a field of long grass with my father. I’m standing outside the field and can’t go in. “No” I think, “you’re not supposed to be there.” She disappears. I hear her laugh. Now she’s sitting on a slope on the other side of the field. I still can’t go in, but I am comforted that she is laughing. That she is with my father.
I plant a garden. I look for butterflies, that universal symbol of rebirth. Other people send me messages when they see butterflies. We are looking for signs. We want there to be signs.
I read that if things often seem not to be where you left them in your house it’s your departed loved one playing tricks on you. I think of the scissors. Ever since Zoe died, beginning with when we were cutting out paper butterflies to string for her funeral, I’ve had trouble finding the scissors and they never seem to be in the place that I left them.
I’m driving around Aix-en-Provence. I’m increasingly stressed because I’m driving in circles down narrow lanes on the opposite side of the road than I’m used to and my GPS keeps telling me I’ve arrived at Paul Cezanne’s house, but it’s nowhere in sight. I can’t find anywhere to park and look and I can’t find my way out of this neighbourhood. I glance to the left and see a car where someone has written “Zoe” above the numberplate. She’s reminding me to calm down, be in the moment. In the scheme of things this is nothing to stress over. I eventually find a parking building (but not Cezanne’s house) and spend the morning wandering the pretty streets and absorbing the sights of the old part of town.
I’m in Montserrat, taking in the breathtaking views hundreds of metres above sea level and several hundred steps up from the Abbey that I reached by cable car. I come across a cloud of yellow butterflies.
I’m running late for work, rummaging through a drawer for clothes. A sudden heat runs through my hand and I instinctively pull back, then almost immediately realise I have touched the clothes Zoe was wearing when she died.
I believe in signs. I want there to be signs.