I talk with dead people while I make bread. It started with my Mom, and then expanded out to all my relatives. Yesterday it included my recently deceased coworker.
I wasn’t planning on talking with him. I thought that making bread was my time to spend with my female ancestors, all the ones I met and all the ones I didn’t. Making bread and cooking in general is something that women do. The kitchen is the place where you cook. Thus, to talk to them, I go where they were.
Now, they never spent time in my kitchen, but that doesn’t matter. It is the heart of the place, the rituals and the motions, that matter. This is why you can find God in any sacred place. It isn’t the building that matters – it is what goes on inside the building.
Making bread has become my special time to talk with my relatives, but I’d been thinking a lot about Jeff. He died suddenly and unexpectedly, and that is the problem. He had sort of quit living. For over a month he pined for his wife who had died. He kept talking about how it wasn’t fair that they had just found each other and now they were separated. He wanted to be with her again.
Death isn’t preferable to life. In death, you can’t experience the world like you can with a body. In death, you are free of the limitations of the body. You no longer experience the pains that the body has, or the cravings. But you also can’t experience the good things either.
I was talking to him while I was mixing the ingredients for the bread, while I was thinking about how we need rituals and practices to “shape” our feelings. We need order so we know how to feel. We need a graduation ceremony to let us know that we are no longer in high school. We need a funeral ceremony to know that our friend or relative is no longer with us. We use ceremony and ritual to mark our days and our lives. They are like gateways, or doors. They mark a change from “here” and “there”.
I was talking with him, telling him how much he is going to miss since he has died. He can’t eat the bread that I make anymore. He can’t drink a Yoo-Hoo (it is a whey-based chocolate drink, and very tasty). He can’t touch, smell, or taste. Spirits can see, but they can’t interact with the world. He chose to withdraw from the world. By yearning for his wife who had passed over to the other side, he left this side.
Because he died peacefully in his sleep, because he died young, he doesn’t know he has died. He thinks he is still stuck in his dreams and is having a hard time waking up.
I told him to seek Amy, (his wife) to go to her. She is what he wants. But she can’t be with him if his spirit is still mostly here. He has no body for his spirit to reside in, so he’s stuck.
I had a dream with him in it last night. He was joking with another coworker like they always do. I was sitting at my desk and the coworker was at his. Jeff was sitting right next to him, huddled up close. I couldn’t see either of them at first because the computer monitor was in the way. Then I heard Jeff joking like always after lunch. I scooted my chair over and saw him.
I said “You’re alive?!” and he smiled sheepishly. “Why would you do this to me?” Why would they make me think he had died? He had no answer. I reached for his hand, to hold it, to prove to me that he was real. I held his hand across the desk for a while and we talked. Then he said it was a patient of his who had died, that there was a misunderstanding. It wasn’t him.
I said he doesn’t have patients. He isn’t a doctor. Then he looked confused, and the dream ended.