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Talking to Ghosts: When the One Person You Want to Talk to is Gone

How to live with the love that’s left

By Crystal JacksonPublished about a year ago 3 min read
Talking to Ghosts: When the One Person You Want to Talk to is Gone
Photo by Shot by Cerqueira on Unsplash

I find myself talking to ghosts all the time. This is a side effect of having built intimate connections with other people over the years. I used to despair at how much was left behind when a connection was severed — the memories and moments felt heavy to carry around when the person I shared them with was gone. For a while, I was reluctant to let anyone close enough lest they, too, leave me with remnants and regrets.

But now, I realize that there’s something precious about the time we share with others. We give a piece of ourselves to them, and they share their own. But in the absence of that connection, we have only ourselves left to enjoy inside jokes and flashes of memory.

I’m driving down the road talking to my grandmother about my garden. Just the other day, I told my other grandmother about a book I read. These silent conversations carry on without a reply from loved ones who’ve gone beyond the veil.

It’s not only death that separates us. I share a memory with an old friend whose dramatic exit from my life during a particularly tumultuous period of time created a chasm between us. I share a song suggestion with a former lover who may never hear it or will hear it and never know that I wished it his way. I am all the time talking to my past self and to the future one and to the people I once loved or love still.

Time is inconsequential. Yesterday was a million years ago. Three years, like yesterday. I am surrounded by ghosts, but I take care not to become one before my time.

When the one person I want to talk to is not around to hear the words I’d like to say, I don’t swallow them down. I don’t simply try to forget. There’s no room for denial — and often no point in reaching out. I do other things instead.

I hold space for love and lovers lost.

I sit with the bittersweet feelings and don’t try to run away. There’s a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, but I know that resistance is truly as futile as they say. The feelings will pass soon. I wait in that space, allowing them to be, until they do.

I talk to ghosts, as silly as it sounds.

I recommend the song anyway. I share the memory — even if only with myself. I have conversations with dead grandmothers and long-lost lovers and friends. I tell the old versions of me a happy ending, and I whisper encouragement to the one I haven’t yet become.

I open my heart to connection.

I used to try to keep every friend and lover at arm’s length. If I could love them, they could hurt me. But then it hit me: If I couldn’t love them, what was the point of it all?

So, I let it all flood in. All the love. All the connection. Casual lovers were held as close as long-time partners. Friends were pulled into my inner circle. I tell them I love you almost every day. I stopped trying to make myself into a fortress and let myself be a woman who is capable of abundant love. It hurts, and it heals, and I open to all of it.

I don’t live in a graveyard. My life is filled with more present people than past memories. Yet, I talk to ghosts all the time. I pass on an idea that I know they’d find interesting. I share a show I think they should watch. I ask my grandmother for advice on my garden and listen to a cold winter wind brush against my windchimes but carry no word, yet, of what she thinks I should do.

Originally published on Medium

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About the Creator

Crystal Jackson

Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned author. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, NewsBreak, Your Tango, and The Good Men Project. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and 3 volumes of poetry.

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    Crystal JacksonWritten by Crystal Jackson

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