There was a great post by Nancy Martin and a whole slew of accompanying stories over at The Lipstick Chronicles this week about disastrous wedding experiences. Well, actually, humorous disastrous wedding experiences, which is why I decided not to contribute my own most bizarre wedding memory – it was just too dark. Maybe it’s the stuff I write (you think?) but out of the multitudes of weddings I’ve attended and participated in (I had EIGHT good friends get married within a year, egad – one of the reasons I keep putting that wedding thing off myself), all with lovely and funny and heartwarming stories galore, it’s this one particular incident that, well, haunts me, so much so that I didn’t want to invoke it and cast a pall over that happy thread.
So I thought I’d tell it here, where you all are, you know, used to me.
It was a gorgeous wedding at a club by the ocean. Rich father plus highly artistic bride and groom and highly artistic friends helping so everything was stunningly lovely with no expense spared. Great dance band, entertainment by friends, the bride in a gasp-inducing princess gown. Lovely, lovely, lovely, perfect in every way.
And then came the toasts. All touching, funny… until the FOB. Okay, he was drunk, but that’s not unsual in itself. But when he started to speak, an uneasy hush fell over the crowd. He was telling a story about the bride, and it was just – wrong, the whole sense of it. He said that when she was born, they thought she was autistic and the way he said it made it sound like there was no hope, so they’d never expected much from her anyway. (She is not impaired in any way, by the way – quite the opposite – beautiful, brilliant, talented, charming) We kept waiting for an upturn, a happy ending, even something remotely mitigating, but no. It was horrifying. More than just disturbing in the moment – it felt like – the moment in Sleeping Beauty when the evil fairy shows up at Princess Aurora’s christening and curses her. It felt – prescient.
I wish, really now I’ve wished a thousand times since then, that all of us, the couple’s friends, had stepped in like the good fairy to cast some kind of counter-spell, right there on the spot, wedding protocol be damned. But what? We were all too stunned to even move.
The couple’s first child was diagnosed with autism a few years after birth.
Now of course that story gnaws at me as a writer because of the fairy tale curse aspect of it – I’m completely obsessed with the theme. But it wasn’t just me – all of us who knew the couple knew that something large was going on there – something more than ordinary – a foretelling. It was a moment that ordinary reality seemed to stop and you got a glimpse into the future, or at least a possible future (which is why I so wish one of us at the time had been an experienced witch or yogi to perform some kind of counter-ritual or blessing).
And because of the book I’m writing (yes, STILL writing…@#$%^&) I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently – the moments when we get a glimpse into a bigger, deeper reality. You read enough about psychic events experienced by ordinary people, as I’ve been doing, and they’re all so very similar.
– The crisis apparitions, where a loved one is hurt or dying and appears in some way to a relative or mate at the moment of death, either as a full-fledged apparition or a signal, like a mirror shattering.
– The precognitive dreams: A young mother has a nightmare that her new baby is crushed to death when the light fixture above the crib falls – she wakes up screaming and runs in to the nursery where she finds the baby perfectly fine, sleeping soundly, but she takes the baby into bed with her and her husband – and two hours later they’re awakened by a crash from inside the nursery.
– The visitations from dead loved ones who have something to say about where your mother’s bracelet is or where the new will was filed.
– And of course the ordinary psychic things that happen all the time – the wife who dreams that there is another woman in bed with her and her husband – and discovers that he is, indeed, having an affair. The teenager who decides at the last second to take the left turn instead of the right, even though it will mean an extra five minutes getting to his friend’s house – and as he makes the turn he hears the screeching of brakes and a grinding of metal back there at that very corner.
Yes, yes – all these things can be explained as simple, ordinary perception. The young mother noticed subconsciously that the plaster around the light fixture was cracked and her dream warned her about a very real danger. The woman whose dead husband visits her in a dream to tell her where the bonds is remembering that her husband made that stop at a certain bank one day and her dream makes it her dead husband telling her so so that she’ll pay attention. The teenager registered that a car was driving too fast on that side street out of the corner of his eye. (I can’t as blithely explain how people see their loved ones at the EXACT moment of death, but I’m sure there’s someone out there who can debunk that one, too.)
But I think – reality is a lot more mutable than skeptics want to admit. And I’m not just talking about our perceptions and instincts and intuitions. I mean the whole of the universe gives us signs all the time.
The morning my grandmother died, I woke up and walked outside and the sunrise was just – surreal. The whole sky was flaming orange and red and pink – much more like deep sunset than the pallid pink of LA sunrises. The pecan tree in my back yard towered against that sky, and in the tree were hundreds, hundreds of cawing birds. It was earsplitting, mindblowing.
A half hour later I got the call.
When I look back at those moments that I knew something more than I realistically should have known, there is a heaviness to them, an import, a hyper-clarity – even a time-slowing-down quality. And so it seems to me – and it’s said by spiritual teachers – that if we all paid more attention all the time to these insights, synchronicities, we’d be able to see the signs all the time.
So that’s my spring resolution, since it’s such a lush and pretty day today that it seems like a resolution is called for.
I’m going to pay more attention to the signs – the dark and the light.
So I know all of you have stories to tell about visitations, prescience, telepathy, dream signs, and those just larger-than-life moments. (Yes, all of you – even the people who don’t believe always have stories about friends…)
I’m not sure where I would categorize this, but here’s my story. I’m sure it’s some kind of sign. Not long after my fiancee died, I wore the engagement ring I gave her around my neck. One day I realized that the chain around my neck was broken and I couldn’t find the ring anywhere. After several days of searching and no results, I stopped looking. Several days later, I was looking at a picture of my fiancee — it was years before we met, but I’ve seen the picture before. It’s one her father sent me right after her death — and I noticed the ring was on her finger. It only lasted a second, but it was there. I guess she must’ve really liked the ring.
Ah, great story. I think that falls into the category of what I’ve heard called “communications”. She was letting you know she IS – by taking the ring she loved, and also from what you’ve said about this woman, I suspect she was letting you know she wasn’t going to let you mourn obsessively.
I would have to agree with that. I’m now in a great relationship with someone who is a lot like her in several respects. I can’t help but think that she may have guided me into that direction.
OK, I’m not a big believer but … when my father’s sister came to visit us for the very first time (I was eleven), she slipped in the shower, hit her head and died. That same day, three clocks in the house — my watch, a cuckoo clock in the living room, and a wind up alarm clock belonging to my aunt — all stopped at 2:05, the moment she died.
Alex,I AM a believer in this world and our abilities to perceive far more than seems rational. I don’t get caught up in whether it’s psychic or magic or simply accessing broader parts of our awareness. Doesn’t matter to me . . . it’s real.
I’m sure it won’t surprise you that I often have these kinds of experiences. Most of them are “of-course-this-happened” events.
And then there are things like this:Two months after my mother died, I was in the middle of everything falling apart . . . I was staying in her house and trying to sell off her huge art/antique collection and her phones kept wanking out on me.
One morning, I’d reached my limit. The phone was out again. My neighbor helped me arrange to get calls forwarded to my husband’s cell and I had to go to his office to pick it up. On the drive over, I was falling apart, felt like I had not one more atom to give.
“Okay, God, universe, I can’t do anything more. I can’t take one more thing . . . ” I said over and over until I got to the office.
When I walked in the door, I heard Peter’s cell phone ringing. He answered it (really, it was right when I got into the building) and said, “Pari? It’s for you.”
The woman who spoke was my godfather’s home nurse. Al had killed himself, shot through the head in his own bed, that night and they’d just found the body.
**** Believe me, I’ve stopped complaining about the little stuff . . .
Wow, Pari. That’s just heartbreaking.
My maternal grandfather loved to feed the doves in the morning. Usually two pair, sometimes three, showed up. Every morning, for years. Then one morning, more than 50 showed up, all at the same time. He died the next day before time to feed them. I’d like to think they were saying goodbye or guiding him to a better place.
And, Toni,Your story is just beautiful.
When I was seventeen, a friend of mine died from being struck by lightning. His favorite song was Led Zeppelin’s “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” –in fact, some of his other friends who were in a band played it at his funeral, which goes to show he had seriously cool parents.A few days after, we were driving around, drinking beer, listening to Zeppelin on the eight track (this was the 70’s). The song reminded us of Scott and we started talking about how cool was and how much we were going to miss him, when the song stopped, right in the middle. There was a brief pause, and then it started again.From the beginning.On an eight track tape.Think about that.And no, the song wasn’t at the beginning of the track.No, there was no rewind on the eight track deck.It was physically impossible for that to happen, but it did.
I’ve had too many bizarre and unexplained things to mention. I think everyone does, and the most important thing is to just be open. Think of the beauty we might miss otherwise.
Great topic, Alex!
JT, your story of the tall man at the door of the club is very much with me today.
I have two of these.
It was a long time since high school, but I could not get my high school sweetheart off my mind. There was something insistent going on. It faded a bit, then came back full force. I learned a year later she’d had a child during that period and lost her a few weeks later to a severe birth defect.
Several years later my esteemed spouse was working as a consultant on an IT job at a university hospital in Chicago. I was working in Santa Fe. Could not get another friend from HS out of my mind. I left lots of messages on her home answering machine in New Jersey and never got a call back.
Well, not until months later. While my dear Mary Lynn had been slaving down in the basement infotech area, my friend Mary had been upstairs donating a kidney to a sibling and recovering from the surgery.
Pari, the Pisces, I know you know. That is a heartbreaking story. But the universe does know exactly what we can take, and it’s always more than we think.
I love the doves, Toni. What a beautiful image, not just the visual, but because it’s true.
You know, Dusty, I think a lot of synchronistic communication happens with music. It’s a universal code.
Okay, Tom is officially psychic.
Alex, great post. I’ve been having similar ponderings this week and last, particularly about signs and darkness and light.
I have a dear friend (whose very friendship is the result of all kinds of signs and synchronicities) who is living a long ways away and has been for several years now. He is often out of touch due to the life he’s living, and I worry a lot about him. It invariably happens that when he is in danger I dream about him, and while the dreams aren’t exactly what is going on in his reality, they are so close it is almost scary. We have a pattern now. I have the dream. I email it in full to him. He doesn’t get the email until he’s safe and has internet access. He emails back to say “oh my god, you did it again” and then tells me the story of whatever turmoil he’s just lived through.
The last time though, I dreamed a really beautiful, spiritual, peaceful dream about him and learned he’d taken time off and was doing a spiritual process in which he had a vision – which was exactly what I had dreamed.
I have no doubts at all that we walk around each day in possession of more power to “know” than we realize. When we tap into it full force things will really get interesting!
Billie, you seem to me much more connected on a daily basis than most of us will ever be – I envy that about you. I’m not surprised at all that you have a friend like this and an awareness of this depth. I hope that’s in a book somewhere!
Alex, I think that term, hyper-clarity very apt. I married very young,(19) and remember that about three days before the wedding losing my voice completely. This seemed a little more significant than bridal jitters on some level. I had one of those hyper-clear moments where the air stills, and I really felt that almost silent chime of a cross roads happening.
This was the time to either pull out, (and imagined I what my life could be taking another path/paths)…or continue down the one I was on.
The slightly surreal aspect of that moment was having a glimpse of the future, sensing the age we would be when we had another choice to make, to stay together or part,in that moment before the marriage and still go ahead.
Apologies for typo, ‘imagined I what my life’, should be ‘I imagined what’…
I used the three day before wedding as an example, mainly because it was fairly pivotal. On a day to day basis there’s pretty frequent bizarre moments sprinkled through.
Plus I have had a number of pre-cog dreams that act as a nice heads up for stuff about to occur in the next three days, typically…so when I dreamt that my youngest daughter was saying goodbye to me,backlit ala Xfiles fashion. I woke with a pretty significant start and an awful nightmarish dread. Ended up ringing my daughter at 3am just to check she was ok. Which she was. She was pretty gracious about the 3am wake up too.
This was an occasion where I was very happy to be wrong.
I’m putting that particular nightmare down to reading Robery Gregory Brown’s ‘Kiss her goodbye’. Way too evocative.
Catherine, thanks for that story – it reinforces something I’ve been thinking – that the time of a wedding is a very psychically charged atmosphere all the way around. Not just for the wedding couple, but for everyone in proximity. Powerful stuff.
Of course it’s high praise for an author to hear his/her book gave a reader a nightmare! But I don’t think the nightmares we have right after reading or watching a scary movie are psychic, thankfully! Post[-movie is about the only time I do have nightmares.
Yeah Alex I agree with you on the nightmare, no psychic anything in that case, just a reaction to good writing. On some level I was aware of that at the time, but still had to check in with my daughter.
Funnily enough the psychic dreams I have are pretty clear, and are the only dreams I have in black and white.When I think back on that dream, it had an element of stage management/ too cliched a lighting effect..lol.
Your telling of your friends wedding was eerie to say the least.
Marriage is such a public choice. We make so many choices every day that not many people would know of…but with marriage we generally invite everyone meaningful to us and publically declare our choice. I can’t think of too many other times this occurs. Maybe that is part of why it’s psychically charged.
Alex – what a great blog! Just catching up.
In my family, some of the women are very connected. My Mother, my sister and me (plus my Nana, who is throwing parties in heaven).
We call it ‘a disturbance in the force’ – and when one of us gets that feeling, we start making phone calls. Sometimes it’s just that someone in the family is having a rough time. Most of the time, it’s more serious. I’ve stopped trying to figure it out – we just accept that it’s real and go with it.
Catherine, my apologies for your nightmare. I hope you’re sleeping better now… 🙂