This is the story of how I fell in love and came to know the existence of an afterlife.

Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass they see face to face; and their conversation in free, as well as pure. That is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal. 
William Penn


It's been two years now. I was in Australia when it happened. We were staying at two separate hotels. The phone call reached our first hotel an hour after we left. And so I was left to live out the rest of my vacation in ignorant bliss. Left to enjoy the wedding for which I had traveled there. Left to enjoy the post-Christmas stupor. The New Year's hoopla. 

Waiting for the plane from California to Texas was the first chance I had to check my voicemail. Nothing. When we finally arrived home there was a message on the answering machine from a school administrator and immediately I knew something was wrong. I opted to pick up Dolly from the kennel--I opted for an escape, I wanted to be out of the house, out from under my parent's worried glances. I wanted to be on my own when I heard the news. All it took was one phone call, from my end. We had lost Jared. Over a week ago. The funeral had happened.  And life would go on. But it would be different. Altered. Absent. And then my phone finally registered all the hidden voice mails. 

Jared was my go-to relationship expert. He got me through my first year boy crazy phase, when life was a veritable ring-around-the-rosy of upper-classmen.  He explained to me that boys were like colleges. You had the "safety" schools, the "target" schools, and the "reach" schools. I was settling for "target" schools when what I really deserved were "reach" schools. And he was a quiet presence of strength and laughter as I lapsed into a deep sadness. We never got together, which was saying something, because Jared got together with many a girl. He was a ladies man if ever there was one, but in the best possible way. He always told me that he'd find me a guy, the guy--it was just a matter of finding one smart enough. 

He found me one, alright. Soon after he passed was when I met guy #1/2. And I knew it was his doing. I saw a medium in Lillydale the following summer and she told me that a boy was coming to her. I knew it was Jared. Immediately, I knew. And she said that he nodded his head as I mentioned  guy #1/2--that Jared liked him quite a bit. He approved, if you will.

But as I walked away from the session, I thought, how convenient. This was just me grasping at straws, wanting something so badly I willed it into existence. But when I listened to the tape (they tape the conversation for you and give it to you at the end) what struck me most was the medium's laughter. Her laughter actually danced. And I knew she had been charmed by someone, something much greater than myself. And Jared was the answer. I told her he'd find me a man and she nodded her head in agreement saying he was telling her "rosebud"--that would be the sign from him that he approved of the guy. Funny, that morning I had made a Citizen Kane joke uttering that infamous line myself. 

I'll never forget the early hours of January 1, 2007. I was lying in bed. It was a few days since he'd passed, and yet I was still swathed in my own ignorance. And I felt a happiness unlike anything I'd ever known before or since. It was a happiness that brought with it such clarity. It didn't last, of course. But I've felt the repercussions of that moment many times in the subsequent years. That's what Jared gave me. In the midst of depression he reminded me what the light on the other side looked like. He literally gave me hope. 

For the most part I've never felt a great sadness, or a great loss at his passing. It was always so clear to me that Jared was not gone. He had just taken on a different form. There are times that I miss him. Times that I wish I could call him up. Times that I'd like to complain about the latest guy. So I just start speaking. 

I feel him less now--than I used to. But I think this is a good thing. I think it means he's having more fun up there and trusting that we'll all be okay without him. 

Two nights after I met with the medium I was passing the amphitheatre at Chautauqua. The Celtic Tenors were singing and I arrived right as they began their last song. This song is dedicated to lost love, they said, and then began in with the Air Supply tune that was on all those Burger King commercials about a year ago, "I'm all out of love, I'm so lost without you..." And each one of the tenors pulled out a long stemmed red rose to hand to a member of the audience. Standing outside the auditorium, the tears streamed down my cheeks. The last thing Jared and I ever did together was sing that song for an absolutely ridiculous liberal arts project. The song couldn't be more perfect--it's such a cheese fest that while in some ways the lyrics ring true--you can't help but smile all the way through it. 

I miss Jared. So much. But when I think of him, all I can do is smile. And remember. Remember how he made me laugh. Remember how he sometimes made me cringe. And remember that he'll make good on his promise. So for now I'll just keep waiting. Waiting for the rosebud.