Ghosts are memories (part 1 of 2).
We got our first dog when I was 7, a tawny blond collie lab mix that we named Simba – “lion,” if you haven’t seen The Lion King. When we moved to Minnesota, he found a preferred space on the landing between staircases, back to the lowest step, and for the eight years that he and I shared that house, I jumped over that step going up or down, knowing that there was likely a fuzzy body dozing against it. Simba died of age and worms at the ripe old age of 11 or 12, pretty good for a medium-sized dog, when I was at college. For as long as my mother stayed in that house years after, I still jumped that step. The ghost of my dog still sat in my brain, “This is where I sleep!”
On Friday, we shuffled furniture at the house. Stephanie’s bed went back downstairs to her room, but all we had to move was the mattress. The frame and split box spring were already in place, a testament to Anthony’s long ago attempt to move a full king-sized box spring up the stair, the event of which had necessitated him buying a reciprocating saw (good!) and cutting out a couple of stair treads (less good). We moved dressers like hopscotch. This one downstairs from the hall. This one from the hall to one room. This one from one room to another. There was nothing about that downstairs bedroom that spoke to my last two visits, when Anthony lay in a hospital bed, sleeping, sitting with a visitor, or watching television. And yet, twice in a row, I caught myself poking my head around the corner to check and see how he was doing.
On the Wednesday before we left, someone posted a link to the gamesite for Diablo III. The gameplay video spends a lot of time on the Barbarian, Anthony’s preferred character class in all games video and role-playing. I thought, without remorse but joy, how much he’d love playing this, the ghost of my friend sitting in my brain, “That’s what I’m talking about.”