The Line Between Life & Death


It was the something anniversary of Mike’s death. I’m not exactly sure which, because it always feels like 100 years and last week.

I was sitting in my car outside of a psychic medium center in the middle of the San Fernando Valley. It was December but the sun was hot enough to make me sweat from behind the windshield. I wanted to make sure I was focused on Mike rather than on my fear of the kinds of people who practice “spiritual mediumship” for a living. I closed my eyes for a moment and looked at the way his mess of brown hair parted just enough to frame his blueberry eyes. I made a fist to remind myself how tightly he once held my hand. I fought my lips against each other in tribute to the wild way he held my mouth with his. I put on a song that I never let myself listen to, a song by the Decemberists that we melted to, together. The lyrics “…and we are vagabonds / we travel without seatbelts on / We live this close to death” rang a little bit too true, post-Mike’s unseat-belted crash into death. But I listened to it and remembered how we drove around, trying to understand our young sadness. We were so clueless about the universe and the irony of our blues, then. We could have driven so much faster, so much lighter.

It was the middle of a weekday and even though no one in Los Angeles has a job, the streets were oddly bare. I kept checking my surroundings because I was about to do something embarrassing. I decided no one was close enough to notice me, so I turned down the music and cleared my throat:

“Mike, are you here? If you’re here, with me, do something, give me some sort of sign. Anything.” Nothing.

Nothing until forty-five minutes later, when I was sitting across from a lady with hip-length auburn hair, eyelids closed yet viciously fluttering over rabid eyeballs. She told me Michael had a message for me and asked if I wanted to hear it.

“Yeah, yes. Yes,” I decided.

“He said he gets frustrated when you ask him if he’s there, when he is. He’s showing me a picture of you sitting in your car, asking for him. He says he was right there with you, he’s frustrated that you can’t see him.” She opened her eyes, looking very pleased with herself.

My heavy jaw told her she was onto something. Trying not to grin, she leaned into me.

“Does this make any sense to you? Do you know why he’s showing me this?”

I couldn’t give her too much credit, not yet. I was still a skeptic, wondering if it’s possible she saw me in my car before I came in.

“Maybe, yes, a little, I guess, did he say anything else?”

Now she was annoyed with me. She wanted to be praised; the session was almost over.

“Do you have anything you’d like me to say to Mike? Is that why you came to me?”

What could I possibly say to him? Him. Can you come back to life? Is there an after-life? Is the apocalypse coming? Do you watch me when I dress? Are you mad at me for not wanting to hold your hand in public? Did it hurt? Could I have prevented this? Can I love someone else?