Kelly’s mysterious absence from the Connecticut River doesn’t make sense to me. Her last moments were spent on the River. I was alone with her when it happened. There was an elaborate investigation to try to pin the accident on me. That’s how I felt, at least. When it happened, it was unthinkable that life could go on, that I would go forward. I was engulfed in a sorrow so great, that I wondered if I would survive it.
The price I have paid for surviving is that Kelly watches over me most of the time. Other people have shadows, I have Kelly. She is a silent observer of all that I do, both bad and good. In her manifestation, she has not aged. Oddly, she has a wardrobe that changes seasonally. I notice that. I notice that her chest moves as if she were breathing, but of course, she’s not. I notice her eyes blink. Her mouth moves, but never to form words. I can read her expression as well as I ever could. This fall, it will be ten years since she died. Ten years.
When she first started visiting me, I told her to cross-over, find the light, do what spirits do. Go. Instead, I saw more of her. I made the mistake of telling people. Oddly, it was only Declan who believed me. I asked if he could see her, too. He said, “No, but sometimes I feel her.”
Thinking I must be having some kind of psychological breakdown, I made an appointment with a psychologist. Three sessions in, she said I needed to talk to a psychiatrist who could also medicate me. For three years, I was a compliant and cooperative patient who took anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications. I talked out my unresolved issues. Nothing changed. Kelly came to therapy with me, She rode home, or if I met friends for dinner after therapy, she sat at the next table. Kelly was relentless.
I used the Internet to research psychic phenomenon. After trying seances and readings and occult gatherings (all of which Kelly attended), I gave up. Imagine my utter surprise when, finally, finally, someone other than me saw her. A prospective parent visiting Whately Prep was in my office. Ostensibly, we were alone. Of course, Kelly was sitting in the corner, staring out the window. The mother interrupted my description of the endowment at Whately Prep. “Excuse me, I just wondered why you asked a student to join us for this conversation. “
My stomach lurched uncomfortably. I thought I might be sick in the wastebasket under my desk. I was so startled that I couldn’t speak for a moment. Kelly turned toward me. The mother, Clara Carter, said, “Oh, but she looks just like you, she must be your daughter.”
My eyes glanced at the family portrait taken the year before, absent Kelly. Maybe it was all an unkind and elaborate ruse. Clara, sensing my dismay, spoke directly to Kelly, “We stopped in Sunderland to see the Buttonball Tree, I didn’t know they make necklaces. Is that where you found yours?”
I had never told anyone, not even Declan, that, on the morning of the day she died, I bought Kelly a silver Buttonball necklace. As I clasped it around her neck, she turned to me with a broad smile and said, “I’ll never take it off Mummy, never, ever.”