In one of the less weighty books on grief and specifically, sudden death, that I finished recently, I found a term for something I’ve been experiencing quite a bit for months now.
It’s called the “flicker phenomenon.” Dr. Catherine M. Sanders writes that it is “a perception seen at the outside edges of our visual field as a flickering shadow. Immediately, thoughts of the deceased come to mind, but when we look directly at that area, nothing is there.”
The author of the book continues from there, “These sightings or feelings may well be the deceased trying to comfort us, trying to get through somehow. When we try to rationalize and make sense of these experiences, we rob them of their magic.”
I don’t know if I’d call it magic or comfort, but at least once a day I have a “flicker” moment. Sometimes I imagine it’s you and then see right away what it is I’m seeing with my peripheral vision- when we had the Christmas tree it was that a few times, and strangely enough, it happens with your cello- standing in the corner of our room, all the time. Sometimes it’s my own reflection in a mirror that I see moving.
But there are time, certainly, when I can’t point out the object so easily, and I am left just wondering.
Sometimes I imagine that when I die, you’ll share with me a video of all of those moments when I thought maybe you were there, and my eyes will be opened and I’ll be able to see that you were. This is in my most hopeful, imaginary moments.
I ordered a small piece of handmade furniture to make a little “store” for Audrey and the woman making it sent me a few paint chip samples in the mail- just a few brushstrokes of different colors on small pieces of wood. Then she wrote letters on them. When I opened up the mail and opened that white envelope to see wood chips and letters, my first thought was that this was a message and I should put the pieces together and see what they spelled. I was almost trembling.
I remembered about the email conversation and the paint samples.
In grief, one is always looking for signs.