A month before I began this project, my trusted old PC partner was diagnosed as unrecoverable. It seemed at this point like everything in my life was giving out on me. Two months before my husband died, my cat, El passed on. Now my PC, what next? My daughter was sympathetic, but understandably preoccupied with her own difficulties. Her house was still without floors, and her kitchen had just been demolished following the latest pipe bursting episode. Aside from of all this, she was still planning to have a first birthday party for her first child, Bradley. “No problem,” she assured me. “We’ll just do a cook out by the pool.” Then the pool pump broke.
The party was reduced to cake on the patio, but somehow she pulled it off. My grandson was now a year old and his birthday turned out to be a very happy celebration for everyone. On the way home I decided to stop at Best Buy, and buy a new computer. My daughter had suggested that I make a change and get an Apple computer. She thought I needed something new to explore, or keep me busy anyway. “It’s a whole new virtual environment,” she assured me. “You’ll love it. Besides, it’ll give you something new to focus your mind on.”
I got the large screen version as I thought it would be easier on the eyes and good for those times when I worked a few too many hours. The only problem was that it was that it sat too high on the stand and would not fit into my computer hutch. The stand would have to be modified. After consulting with the Geek Squad, I was told that it could be done, but the computer would have to be opened in order to remove the stand. They made it sound like a surgical procedure that unfortunately none of them had ever actually preformed. “But if anyone can do it,” they all pointed to tall young man with a thick glasses and a long ponytail, “he can.”
I gave them the go ahead, which was a commitment as once the Mac was altered; it would no longer be returnable. As I paced the isles waiting for the results, I had to smile. Exactly one year ago, I was pacing the halls of the maternity ward, a bit more frantically of course. My daughter gave birth by means of an emergency cesarean which was all very unnerving. Naturally, it all faded when I saw my beautiful new grandson in her loving arms. I sighed remembering, then glanced over to the service section where one of the Geeks gave me a thumbs up. The operation had been a success.
I brought Mac home, set him up in his own room and began feeding him his first software. I had purchased, Pages, an Apple word processing program and everything went smoothly. I learned from the manual, that unlike my old PC, Mac’s are not to be turned off at night. Instead, they are to be put to sleep. So, I put him to sleep and went to my room to do the same.
It was all cute and fun, until the next morning when I attempted to feed my old files into my new Mac. I downloaded all my old PC files onto a backup drive only to find that Macs speak an entirely different language and my files could not be read. None of my old programs it seems were digestible to Mac, including the very expensive Adobe Suite. What had I been thinking when I brought this baby home?
Determined to make it work between us, I researched online and found out it would require an additional investment to get myself back up and running. With my limited funds, I couldn’t afford an additional splurge, especially when I wasn’t even working yet. I had always been able to justify these things before. Never gave it a second thought as it was all just part of business, but now, along with everything else, the business too was gone.
I played with the Mac for a few days, but without anything to work towards, there was not much enthusiasm involved. I still couldn’t focus my mind long enough to write, and every time I opened the email I thought of Jack and my sadness grew. Mac sat idle for the next couple weeks.
That’s when I stopped opening the blinds in the morning. What for, I would just have to close them again at night. I was walking into the kitchen to get a cup of tea when I suddenly heard the call of that pesky cardinal. When I looked up, there he was on the limb of a tree peering through a high arched window, peeking over the top of the blinds. I was a little stunned. I had a genuine peeping Tom my hands, only it wasn’t a Tom and he wasn’t peeping, he was yelling. That crazy bird was looking straight at me loudly calling out “here, here”.
I set my cup down and went outside to take a closer look. The sun was shining and there were several little squirrels chattering at the foot of the large oak tree where the cardinal sat, regally singing away. The fact that he saw me standing on the ground below him did not seem to sway him in the least. He just went on calling out, here, here. Or was he saying hear, hear? I didn’t have the faintest idea, but the whole thing suddenly struck me as funny and made me laugh out loud.
When I came back in, I was still smiling. Even if it was only for a moment, it was good to know that I still could. I walked past the room where Mac was still sleeping, wondering if I would ever be able to write again. Would my passion and enthusiasm ever return?
I thought of the first book I wrote. I didn’t even have a computer when I began. I wrote by hand in a notebook, and my circumstances then were much worse than they are now. When I first began writing, it was because I thought my life was over, and I had nothing else to leave behind for my children. When I wrote “When Angels Die”, it began as a journal to help my children understand that while life on earth may be fatal, life itself is never-ending. Before I completed the book, I met Jack, and before long my whole life changed again.
I didn’t die, but I did leave my life as a clairvoyant behind. Before we made any commitments, I handed Jack the notebook and ask him to read it. “This is who I am”, I told him. “If you can live with that, then maybe we can be together.” He read the book, and as expected, never looked at me quite the same.
What I didn’t expect was that he told me it made him love me even more. “I don’t really believe in psychic stuff,” he warned me. “But I do believe in you.” I assured him that whether or not he believed in life after death was not important. For me, it is what it is, and believing doesn’t change it one way or another. I appreciated his honesty, and even his skepticism. While his skepticism didn’t last too long, the honesty and love did.
It was Jack who provided me with the opportunity and the confidence to begin seriously pursuing my writing career. Considering, I suppose it is not so strange, that his death should provide me with the inspiration and purpose to continue. As I sit here today, working on my Mac with its newly designed red cardinal wallpaper glowing on the screen, I can’t help but to wonder if loss and gain aren’t really two sides of the same coin. Is it possible that the greater our loss is, the greater our gain can be?
I must admit that I have gained considerably. Perhaps not in physical terms, as I am still struggling with finances, and all the other adjustments to widowhood. I have however, gained tremendously. I have gained a new perspective in the wholeness and holiness of life. I have gained greatly in appreciation of the smaller, ordinary things in life that I might not previously have paid much attention to. I am so grateful now for the little things in life, my grandson’s smile; the jasmine blooming outside my window, my new Mac and my peeping cardinal, still heralding his message of “cheer, cheer”.