Spiritual guides, soul partners, ghosts. Some people call them angels. I wasn’t always a believer. Until I turned 50, I felt angry and sad, cheated of the company of loved ones who had passed from this world. But then something happened, well, a couple of things.
Several years ago, my two best friends died within months of each other, both of cancers not caught soon enough. I spent time with both of my girlfriends as their diseases progressed. Some days I would go from work to taking one to chemo to driving the other to her evening bible study class. I’m not complaining, I wanted to do it, and felt honored that they’d asked me to help them face the final months of their lives. But it took a toll on me after they were gone. Life lost a lot of its flavor.
Fast forward a few years to the wedding of the daughter of one of my deceased friends. It was the holidays, a Christmas wedding. My sons were in town for the ceremony; all our friends were there. Everyone but the mother of the bride. The way I traditionally celebrated these events, and tried to forget the sadder aspects, was to drink plenty of wine and dance the night away. For some reason, that night, I didn’t drink any wine. If you knew me then, you’d know this was extremely out of character.
In the middle of the night, I woke up with chest pains so bad that I called 911 for an ambulance, convinced I was having a heart attack. Twelve hours later, having been through a zillion tests, I learned that my heart was in great shape. The doctor said I had gastric distress, probably from all the club soda I’d swigged the night before. He told me to check in with my regular physician.
Really embarrassed, feeling like a total hypochondriac, I went to my doctor. After more tests, I was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus, a pre-cancer condition. My other friend, the one whose daughter did not get married the night I ended up in the ER, had died of cancer that originated in her esophagus.
So that’s why I believe in angels. I am sure my two friends, up in heaven or wherever souls go when they depart this place, conspired to get my diagnosis in front of me before it was too late. For one thing, there is simply no other explanation of why I didn’t drink wine at that wedding. For another, I love feeling the comfort of their continued presence. That they are with me in spirit is almost enough.