That was the day I got the call from my husband telling me that our cousin Jacob had died. It was the worst day of 2009 for me and ushered me in to a difficult and sometimes painful 2010.
Jacob was my cousin by marriage; I was very close to him. We spent a lot of time together the two years after his brother, Josh had died. They both struggled with heroin addiction. They both died from that same drug.
When I got that horrible call from my husband the world spun around me. I dropped to my knees and all I could say was “NO!” Then the tears came.
After that, I went on auto-pilot. Both my husband and I did. We went about the things you do when someone close to you dies, making the necessary calls, determining arrangements, etc. I went and bought a few Christmas gifts in the middle of all of it that day. Do the next thing in front of you to do, I kept telling myself. I just could not wrap my head around Jacob being gone. He was so full of life. A bright shining light, and he was gone and I couldn’t accept it.
I still can’t.
I have a friend from Alanon who has a sort of connection to the dead, if you will. They visit her, and it’s not consistent, and no, she can’t contact your dead aunt for you. It just happens randomly for her. Now, some of you may think this is odd, or maybe you don’t even believe in this sort of thing, but I do. I’ve had a few experiences, myself, with the dead paying me a visit.
Is it leftover energy or a ghost? Who knows? I won’t try and label it.
About 2 months ago I saw this friend at a meeting and we had a strange conversation. She was crying a lot. We used to talk more than we do now, and she was saying how much she missed me, but she was really emotional. Naturally, I comforted her. The next day, she called me and said, “I know you might think I’m nuts, but someone that’s passed on is trying to contact you through me.” I told her I didn’t think she was nuts and asked her who.
She started telling me that this spirit had been around her for a few days, and all she kept hearing was the word “red.” When she saw me at the meeting, my hair had been freshly colored bright red. She told me that yes, although it was true she had missed me, she just felt like she couldn’t get close enough to me that day. It was as if she wanted to climb inside my skin and find comfort. That morning it clicked for her why she had felt like that.
She said, “I don’t know who it is, but he is big and he has a beard. He’s jolly and he’s happy and he loves you, and he needs you to know that he’s okay. He wants me to tell you that he knows you’re having a hard time and he’s with you.”
All I could say was, “It’s Jacob.” She went on to tell me more. She told me some specific things about his death that I had already suspected. She also told me some other things about him that she wouldn’t have known, couldn’t have known. I cried as she shared what she was hearing from him with me. I cried quietly and I listened. “He doesn’t want you to be angry with him,” she said. “He’s happy now, he’s okay.”
She told me he leaves me signs: pennies or feathers. “Look for feathers,” she said.
I’ll be damned! There had been feathers around. Several times I would walk outside to my back patio and there would be a feather sitting on my chair. We were at the annual Christmas party for my husband’s work, standing outside talking, and there was a huge feather on the ground between the owner’s feet. The owner is also my husband’s cousin, and Jacob’s, as well.
It was surreal seeing that feather just sitting there. I knew that Jacob was there with us, too.
I have a picture of Jacob up on my wall in my office. I stare at it a lot. I know he is with me. In the picture he is smiling. I know he’s free from his suffering, from his disease of drug addiction, but I am selfish. I want him here. I miss him more than I can even begin to express. The pictures I am showing you show the funny side, that “jolly” man that he relayed to my friend. There are also a few where you see the pain that was there, too. I cherish these pictures.
Today marks a year that he’s been gone. I know that I will never be the same after losing Jacob. He touched my life in so many ways. In fact, he touched everyone’s life that he came in contact with. He was a friend to everyone, and if he only had a dollar left in his pocket and you needed it, he would give it to you. My house was full of people the day we had his memorial. We had to move it outside and my whole backyard was full, as well as my patio. It was amazing.
Jacob was loved by so many people. We mourned him together, and we still mourn him.
Much has happened in this last year. Some days, life is just too overwhelming and I want to run and hide. Other days, life is just life and it’s bearable, but it goes on.
I’ll never forget Jacob. I don’t think anyone will.
I’ll end this post just as I ended the one I wrote last year when we lost him. If you want to read, you can find it here.
“These three remain always, Jacob. Faith, hope and love...and yes, the greatest of these is love.”
“You were loved, Jacob! You still are.”