My dead husband came back to me two hours after he died. I didn’t see or hear him, but I read the message he sent me. The message I wrote to myself, through his account, choosing the words wisely, to sound like him. My dead husband said he loved me and that he was sorry he left so soon. He didn’t expect his heart to stop beating. I knew he’d say that if only should he be given the chance. So I gave him the chance to properly say goodbye.
That’s how it started, and I didn’t mean it to last this long, only I got addicted to his words. I’ve always been addicted to him, his voice, his face, his touch, but his words are all I got left and I am not willing to give them up. That bleep sound, notifying me of his messages, took the place of his voice, his words soothing and calm mostly, but sometimes angry too. He’s angry at me for not letting him go, angry as I imagine he’d be, if he was allowed to speak, only he’s not; it’s me talking to myself, coping with grief.
That wasn’t my intention at first. I logged in to memorialize his account, but I backed out, couldn’t push the button, I felt it was too soon. Spirits are supposed to float freely around loved ones before the funeral service, I didn’t mean to bury him before his time. I just wanted to see his name pop up once more, so I wrote the message. And it was nice and comforting, like he was still there with me, not in the room, but out there and I was waiting for him to come home. I still am, I think. And I’m lonely, but not as lonely as I’d be if he had left for good.
My sister, Anne, calls in the middle of the night. She asks how I’m doing and I tell her I’m fine. She says she met someone online, she thinks she’s falling in love and in the past I’d have advised her to not fall in love with a stranger, with someone she can’t see, but I’m not sure anymore. The night before my husband died we watched a film together. It was a comedy and I laughed hard. I’m so ugly when I laugh, I told him, and he said you’re also ugly when you frown, only less happy, and he said it jokingly, but I felt bad. The night before he died, I didn’t sleep well. I kept thinking I had to divorce him, that he didn’t understand me well enough to not offend me the way he did.
So what I did is I subtly changed his love language to fit my taste. He showed his love through actions, but I’m well capable of doing the dishes myself. It’s his words I miss the most, words of affirmation, so I made him even better than who he was when he was still here. He didn’t talk that much, that often, he even made bad jokes from time to time, but now he overwhelms me with kind words, reminding me of how beautiful I am, how much he desires me now that he’s gone. His improved version I prefer now, his lasting version, but Anna says that’s a coping mechanism, unhealthy, but well, if it makes you feel better for a while, I won’t object.
I’ve changed his profile picture, the one I had taken a few days before he passed. He was waving at the camera, as if he knew he was waving goodbye. I changed it with a previous one, since I can’t have a new one, a photo from last summer, the one we took on our holidays, in which he’s shining brighter than the sun. I can’t bring myself to memorialize the account yet. This social platform will turn into a virtual cemetery someday, it’ll be the land of angels and ghosts, and I don’t want to contribute by placing my husband under a virtual tombstone. I’d erase my account too, only I wouldn’t be able to get his messages—I’d lose all connection to him. Another excuse I tell myself is that I’ve kept a little piece of his soul alive. It’s gravity, metaphysical gravity, drawing me to him, an incomprehensible force that keeps us together against all odds.
Anne insists I should call it off. All of it. She claims I can’t handle it and I should stop and go out a little. I should move on. She comes over and takes me out to a pub. I met him, she says. You met who? I ask. The mysterious man I fell in love with is even more adorable in real life. I’m happy for Anne, when she shows me the photo he has uploaded of the two of them together. They glow. I slept with him, she says. When she tells me all about the night they spent together, I can’t help but remember my husband’s touch, the way we slept together, nose to nose, the way he pulled my hair away from my face when we made love, that visceral kind of love and I must have lost some of Anne’s words, for she’s staring at me, calling me back to earth and she says, you’re not comfortable with that stuff, are you? And I’m not. I was when their love was not yet physical, when that guy was a mystery, a lingering avatar, but now that he’s a real person, it’s getting hard for me to listen. I have forgotten how real love is, how the real world works and I don’t even want to be reminded.
It’s been two months and I still can’t memorialize his account, but I’m now better at fooling myself. I’ve managed to dissociate when I write his messages. I dissociate that hard that I’m surprised when I read them, as if I weren’t the one who wrote them in the first place, like he’s an angel, taking over my hand when I type them and I have even convinced myself that he is. And I don’t only find solace in them, I’m actually happy when we connect, like there’s a box inside, a box filled with emotions and if there’s enough joy, there won’t be room for sadness, so I keep sending those messages to make me the happiest I can be under the circumstances.
Anne called last night crying. The mystery man has been avoiding her for almost a week. He keeps texting her but he won’t meet her. Anne wonders if she did something wrong, if she’s friend zoned. I check his account, as Anne tells me to. She doesn’t have the nerve to do it herself, afraid she’ll see him with some other girl. It’s a memorialized account. There’s been an accident, they say, but I won’t tell Anne, I won’t say she talks to angels, not now, she’ll find out herself sooner or later. The afterimage, the impression that remains after the real image is gone, will finally fade away, when the memory of it won’t be too painful. I firmly believe in that guy’s good intentions. I think a piece of his soul still lingers, a lasting version of what he once called self, eager for connection with the living, with her. His messages are the echo of his voice from the underworld, the light coming from the dead star he’s turned into, still traveling to reach her after he’s gone.