Heaven Can Wait

“…He was a pillar of the community, a man whose word could be trusted to the very letter.  He was well loved by so many and will missed by all who knew him.  He leaves behind a gaping hole which will be hard to fill.  But we can all take solace in the fact that he once existed in our midst.  At a sad time like this it is important to remember the good times and not reflect too much on the sadness of this occasion.  I am sure he would not want it any other way.  There are many stories to tell of this man.   How he was someone you could always turn to in times of trial.  This was one of his most precious gifts.  It seemed to radiate out of him like…”

Jim Davies stood by the burial ground as the minister gave his eulogy.  The words seemed to wash over him without them meaning anything.  He could not figure out what was going on.   Who was this man who had died? he asked himself.  He couldn’t recall anyone close to him having passed away.  He turned to his wife who stood next to him.  She wore the look of a woman whose life had been torn apart.  She seemed inconsolable.  When Jim placed a hand on her shoulder she didn’t react.  It was like touching a statue.

“Honey?” he whispered in her ear as surprise soon turned to concern.  “Are you okay?”

There was not a flicker of recognition from Elaine.  It was as if she couldn’t hear him, as if she was in another time and place.  But that couldn’t be.  They were standing side by side at this funeral service.

As the earth was shovelled on top of the lowered coffin, Jim took a closer inspection of the headstone.  As he did so he almost fell into the pit.  “But it can’t be,” he insisted.  “It’s not possible.  I mean I’m standing right here.  So how can my name be etched into this gravestone.  There must be some sort of mistake.  This cannot be.”

Jim awoke with a start as he looked around himself in a state of shock.  Familiarising himself with his surroundings, he realized he was lying in his bed, safe and sound.  Suddenly the door opened and Elaine walked in.  She still looked visibly upset.  Jim tried again to console her, but once again his words fell on deaf ears.  This was unfathomable to him.  He was also bemused by something else.  Why was he lying here in bed with his wife joining him? Usually she was out for the count long before him, yet now the roles were reversed.  What was going on?

“Look, dear,” he told Elaine.  “Something is clearly bothering you, so why don’t you tell me about it?”

Again, silence reigned supreme from his wife.  It was as if she had put up an impenetrable wall against him which he could not get through.  This was strange.  He could not remember any fight they had had which would have explained her behaviour.

“Come on, love.  Will you please talk to me?”

“It’s no use: she can’t hear you.”

Jim looked about himself in confusion as this voice reached his ears.  It seemed to come out of thin air, but he could find no sign of anyone else in the room.  So where had it come from?

Ignoring the voice, he drew closer to his wife who had now rested herself in bed.  He placed a comforting hand in her own.  But there was still no reaction from her.  She merely stared up at the ceiling as she brushed away floods of tears from her eyes.

“Elaine.  Will you please look at me?”

“It’s no good, I tell you.  She doesn’t even know you are there.”

“What is this?” stormed Jim as he jumped out of bed and paced up and down the room.  “What is going on?”

“Yes, it’s confusing, isn’t it? I can understand if you find this all perplexing, but there it is…”

“There what is?” demanded Jim.  “Look: I’ve had about enough of this.  First, I have this dreadful dream where I imagine myself attending my own funeral service.  Then when I wake up I discover my wife lying next to me but she isn’t even aware of my presence.  Now I hear this strange disembodied voice.  What does this all mean?”

“I think you might have to sit down before I tell you what is really happening,” said the voice.  “It will be hard for you to take in, but there’s no gentle way of going about what I have to tell you.”

“Which is what precisely?”

“That you didn’t imagine attending your funeral service.  You were actually there in body and spirt.  Well, not so much in body…”

“And what is that supposed to mean?”

“That your body is no longer your own.  You are a ghost, my friend.  That’s why your wife can’t see you.  Some loved ones can see their dearly departed as ghosts but your wife does not have that facility.  Perhaps she was so cut up by your death that the powers that be decided it would be too much for her to see you in your ghostly guise.”

“You mean I’m dead?”

“Yes.”  Slowly the voice took on a physical shape and Jim saw him staring back at a man of a similar age to himself.  “Your death was very sudden, which is probably why you have no recognition of it.  You died of a heart attack while lying in bed with your wife.”

Jim tried to digest this information but it was not an easy task.  “So, you mean to say I have to remain here reliving my death over and over again and looking on to my wife as she tries to come to terms with my loss?”

The man nodded.  “Look: nobody said dying was easy you know.  After all, I should know.  I’ve been here long enough…”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, as it so happens I died in this very same house fifteen years ago.  Since then I have had to exist here as a ghost until someone else was able to take my place.  You should fit the bill nicely!”

Copyright © Mark Campbell 2021

Categories:My Ghost Stories

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