Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One and Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Bertram is also the author of the suspense novels Unfinished, Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light Bringer, Daughter Am I, More Deaths Than One, and A Spark of Heavenly Fire.
I spent the morning cooking, which is something I rarely do anymore. I mostly do quick meals suitable for a single person, so I truly enjoyed the experience.
What did I make? Cranberry compote and chili. Odd combination, right? They both begin with “C” so that’s something they have in common! Other than that, not much.
I had to make a cranberry compote to take to dinner at a friend’s house tomorrow. (Cranberries, oranges, apples, honey and water.) And I needed to cook up a bunch of ground meat. Both the sausage and ground beef that my contractor brought yesterday were in pound packages, and because they were already frozen solid, I couldn’t cut them into smaller portions to freeze as I normally do. Hence, the chili.
I figure since I’ll probably be eating all sorts of treats tomorrow, I might as well get started by treating myself today, and since I make chili so rarely, it really is a treat. Even better, I can freeze it in meal-size portions for later on.
Although I know tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and although I will enjoy be celebrating the day with friends, it seems rather . . . I don’t know . . . redundant. I give thanks every day for my good fortune in having this truly wonderful place to live. Whenever I look around, I see evidence of the help people have given me, whether they were paid or not. I see gifts — both new and hand-me-downs. Truly, other people’s discards are a treasure to those who appreciate them. I bask in the feeling of being home — in the house, in the yard, in the town, and with friends.
It’s hard not to be grateful when one is steeped in things which engender gratitude.
So although I will be thankful tomorrow, I’ll also be thankful today and tomorrow and all the tomorrows that come after that.
And oh, yes — on the top of my list of things I am grateful for is my newly published absurdist novel that asks, “What if God decided to re-create the world and turn it into a galactic theme park for galactic tourists? What then?”
I’ve spent a nice lazy day watching men be anything but lazy.
My contractor has a new employee, one who is old enough and knowledgeable enough and conscientious enough to work by himself, so he’s been coming to lay decorative rock and dig pathways to fill with crushed rock called “breeze.” Why is it called breeze? I don’t know. All I know is that it will be nice to have flat paths to walk on as I get old and unsteady.
It’s interesting to me how everyone who has come to work on this house or yard has become caught up in the planning and offered fun and practical ideas for improving the lot and making the place accessible for the old lady I will become. (Of course, since these men are all considerably younger than me, they probably already see me as that frail old woman.)
I certainly hadn’t planned on doing all this (or rather, having it done), but once I can see where the worker is going with his idea, I can’t unsee it. And so, gradually, my yard is taking shape. It truly will be a mini estate when it is finished, with wild areas, garden areas, grassy areas as well as big bushes and small trees creating various “rooms.” And amazingly, when it is all finished, the entire cost of the house and landscaping will be a tiny fraction of what a similar property in any other part of the country would be.
It also looks as if the foundation will be repaired soon. This same worker who is laying down the rock will be digging away the dirt around the foundation, fixing the cracks, and then putting it all back together. As much as I appreciate the aesthetics of the landscaping (and the practicality of it), I am especially looking forward to having the cracks fixed. The house is sound even with the cracks, but since the biggest cracks are in the corner where my bedroom is, fixing them will give me great peace of mind. Not that I worry about it, but fixing the foundation ensures that I will never have to worry about the house collapsing while I am sleeping.
I’d take a picture of the work, but to be honest, all it looks like right now are rocks and dirt. Hmm. Maybe I need a waterfall. Then I’d have an interesting photo to post!
It’s kind of funny that after all these years after Jeff died, after all the years of grief and then the subsequent years of no grief (at least not more than a momentary pang or two of nostalgia), I still sometimes fall into the magical, quantum state of grief where Jeff seems to be both alive and dead.
I know he’s gone. I feel it in the very depths of my being. But sometimes, when I’m going about my daily life (that doesn’t seem anywhere near as ill-fitting as it once did), I find myself thinking one of those quantum thoughts.
Last night, as I wandered from room to room preparing for the night (checking to make sure the doors are locked, turning down the bed covers, making sure I have a glass of water on the nightstand), I thought that I should call his mother to find out how she’s doing, so I can let him know the next time I see him.
The realization of the illogicality of the thought didn’t send me into a spiral of grief, it just made me wonder why that thought, and why now. (Come to think of it, a friend called and mentioned that a mutual acquaintance inherited the care of her hated mother-in-law, which is probably what put the thought in my mind.)
It just goes to show that even when the pain is gone, the habits of grief and grief-thinking linger. That’s not the only stray thought — on more than a couple of occasions, I have found myself wandering through the house, wondering how and where Jeff would fit when he got here.
Hmm. I see a pattern here. I tend to think these thoughts when I am simply wandering from room to room, but that’s no reason to stay put. I do like wandering around my house, feeling the “home” of it. For so long, after he died, I never felt at home anywhere in particular (he had been my home), though I did learn to feel at home wherever I was because . . . well, because that’s where I was. Back then, I had to break myself of the habit of saying I was going home when I returned to one of the places I was inhabiting because it wasn’t home, just a place to roost. I still catch myself editing out the word “home” until I realize that hey! I have a home! It’s not just a place to go back to, but a place to settle into. A place to make my own.
I do wonder what Jeff would think about all this — my moving here, my owning a house, my getting old. (In three days, I will have lived six years longer than he lived.) But mostly, although he’s in the back of my mind and the back of my heart, thoughts of him and his death and my grief no longer dictate my life. Others things dictate the terms now, such as keeping up the house, keeping up my health, trying to hold back the infirmities of an aging body as long as I can. You know — life. Even though I knew from the beginning (odd that I still call his death and my ensuing grief “the beginning”) that the business of life is living — or do I mean the business of living is life? — I never really felt it. I felt the nearness of death and the winds of eternity more than the importance of my continued life.
But here I am, living, despite the occasional and brief lapses into the magical realism and quantum state of grief.
It was too windy for me to go for a walk today, so I worked around the house — dusting, dry mopping, wet mopping, and various other chores. What struck me as I was pampering my house is how many people contributed in one way or another to my being here, through small inheritances and other legacies, furniture donations, help in fixing up the place, in oh, so many ways. I don’t like thinking that people had to die for me to be here, but the love they left behind is something I do like to think of. At times, it feels as if the house wraps me in comfort and safety, which I particularly needed to be reminded of today.
Elections don’t normally affect me one way or another, but this one has me scared for what it portends for our country. I’m particularly aware of the revolution going on that will upend the core beliefs of many of us and make the world a lot less safe. With potential new taxes, with new mores, with the lack of any desire on the part of some leaders to stop the looting in various cities (in fact, some nominees actually approve of looting and want to keep it going), there will be no way to keep what we have from the grasp of the various powers if they want to take it. (Not that this is anything new. It’s just that I never had anything before to be taken so it never seemed personal.)
Although I knew this revolution was going on, and has been going on for many decades in one form or another, I never thought to see it gaining ground so rapidly. I figured I’d be gone by the time this country became unrecognizable. Luckily, I live in the back of beyond where people still believe in accountability, responsibility, family, equality, freedom, law and order, less rather than more government, and all the other strengths of a stable society, so maybe I won’t feel the effects as much as I fear.
But whether those big changes come soon or are still several years away, for today, I am surrounded by all the love invested in this house. And that’s a great place to be. And a wonderful thing to be reminded of.
And speaking of being reminded, let’s not forget that in nine days, my latest novel, Bob, The Right Hand of God will be published! If you would like to be notified by email when the book is available, click here: Bob, The Right Hand of God, sign up for email notifications, and Amazon will let you know the minute it is for sale.
I love my sidewalk and stoop! What a weird thing to say, right? But I do. For the first time since I moved here, I can step outside the back door without risking my life (or my knees). The step was steeper than normal steps, and has always been hard for me, though not as impossible as it has been the past few months. I’ve had to use the front door, and try as I might, I couldn’t help tracking mud into the house. And now, what a joy to be able to use my back door, to sail right down the sidewalk to the garage. To keep the mud and dirt out of my living room.
This fixing up a place seems to be one step forward and one back, and the current backward step isn’t a big deal — at least as long as it doesn’t rain. The Cat skid steer they used to transport the concrete from the mixer to the backyard pretty much tore up the yard, which wasn’t in any great shape to begin with since I haven’t been watering whatever grass there is, but now, the bare dirt is exposed. Eventually, of course, we will be putting in pathways so I can walk around the yard without stumbling, which will solve the mud problem.
For now, I’m enjoying the progress we have made toward a safer and more old-age accessible place. The house is already accessible — one floor, a new galley kitchen, a walk-in shower with hand bars. There are stairs to the basement, but I only need to go down there two or three times a year to change the filter on the furnace.
An odd thought struck me yesterday when I came home from work. Having this place — owning this place — is changing how I feel about myself. I’m not really sure how. More confident, possibly, or maybe just less tentative. Maybe more positive about myself as well as having a firmer foot upon the earth. Maybe even a bit of pride — having something concrete (pun intended) to take pride in
I’ve never been one to see myself through my possessions; things generally have not mattered that much to me. The reason I have an iconic vintage car and why I identify with it to an extent is that it’s been around so long. I’ve had it for more than forty-eight years, so it does have some effect on me and especially my relation to strangers — people stop to talk about my car or just to yell out in passing that they love my bug.
I have a set of dishes that I’ve had since my sixth grade Christmas. The only time I was possessive about these silly things was when Jeff was dying. I didn’t want him cutting meat or anything on them or using foods that would stain them worse than they were, but he kept using them. Up until then I didn’t care, they were just some of “our” dishes. I suppose my possessiveness was sort of weird way of punishing him for leaving me or a way of taking back my life. I never did understand that episode. (They are currently stored on the top shelf of my dish cabinet — I can’t bear to use them now. If I ever need them, I’m sure that will change.)
Although I read about a book a day, I don’t particularly like owning books. Once they’ve been read, the book itself is just a thing. (I do have some books, dictionaries, thesauruses, and various other research materials, though with the internet, I seldom use them.)
So this notion that my very identity is changing as this property changes, that I am changing because of homeownership, because of things, comes as a surprise to me. Though perhaps it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. I never wanted the responsibility of owning a house, never even considered it because I thought it impossible with my meager resources. And even when I did find out that my savings would buy a house, it didn’t change my attitude about myself much because I presumed the house, by necessity, would be in an impoverished area, which seemed fitting.
But the town doesn’t feel impoverished to me. It’s rich in friendship and neighbors and the amenities I need. The house isn’t a rundown shack as the price might have indicated, but a lovely — and welcoming — home. Everyone who has stopped by feels at ease here, possibly because of the atmosphere, but also because I don’t have a lot of clutter. (Except in my office/den, of course.)
All my life I’ve lived on the edge financially, and to be honest, I still do live marginally (or rather, I will when my house-fixing-up funds are depleted), but now I feel . . . comfortable. Confident. Hopeful about the future even as I am planning for my old age.
After Jeff died, I tried to rush through grief (though grief can’t be rushed) because I thought there had to be something wonderful on the other side.
And it turns out that there was. Me. Here. In this house. With a new garage and newer sidewalk. Changes in how I feel about myself.
No workers today. Apparently, the people who had rented the jackhammer before us haven’t yet bothered to return it so the contractor couldn’t come to start ripping up the old concrete in preparation for redoing the stoop and putting in a ramp from the house to the garage. It’s not bad news; In fact, it’s okay. Everything will get done eventually. It was the garage that mostly concerned me. With hail a factor around here, I wanted to make sure my car was protected. The only hail we’ve had so far was pea size, but it’s nice to know I don’t have to worry, especially on days like yesterday when we were under a severe thunderstorm watch. The storm never got this far, but along the front range, they were seeing hail as big as a handful of snow. Even if the storm had hit us, my car was covered.
The good news is that so far, the vinca I planted yesterday is still alive and seems to be thriving, though after only a day, it’s hard to tell.
As I wrote the previous sentence, it occurred to me the good news is more that I am alive and seem to be thriving. Plants come and go — well, so do people, as I well know — but for now, we are both here, the plants and I. It’s been a long time coming, this contentment, but apparently, after so many years, even the absence of those who are gone loses some of its sting.
I had an odd thought today. I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to project myself into the future to prepare for my old age (because if I don’t make those preparations and do them now, no one will be around to take care of them, not even me because I will be too old). I worried that by thinking so much of being elderly, I was putting myself there prematurely. Luckily, the thought passed. I imagine that once I don’t have to think about fixing up the place to accommodate an older me, then I will slide back into being just . . . me.
Although the infrastructure of the yard, such as the pathways to give me an even footing and the inclined walkway instead of steps, will always remain, it’s possible that after I get the yard and garden looking lush and pretty, it will end up scraggly as I lose the interest and strength to keep it up, but that isn’t something I want to worry about. I’m planting bushes and other things that can generally take care of themselves once they’ve been given a good start. And if I can’t afford to hire someone to take care of the yard in that far off day, I can sit and dream of more verdant times.
Or not. It’s entirely possible I’ll be able to garden until the end. Some people do, why not me?
But that’s for the future. Today, I am able to do what I need to do. Today I worked outside for a bit, picking weeds and watering my plants. Today I’m grateful for what I have. Sounds like good news to me!
I spent yesterday morning moving my tools and such into the garage. You’d think it would be an easy task, because an unhandy woman shouldn’t need a lot of tools, but I’ve ended up with a slew of things. Some I bought. Some I inherited from various folk. Some were gifts. Some came from people who thought I should have a tool collection. And so now I do have a collection. I have way more screwdrivers and wrenches than I will ever use, more hammers than I have hands, a power drill I used once, an electric screwdriver. Long-handled garden tools, of course. Oh, so many things! (I have a hacksaw and a Japanese pull saw, but I don’t have an electric saw. I might need to rectify that omission.)
Now the tools are nicely arranged in the post-WWII steel kitchen counters that apparently once resided in my kitchen and now sit comfortably in my garage. This opened up my utility/sun/exercise room. And what a difference! Ever since the old garage was torn down, all my tools and storage items were stashed in that room, so now not only do I have a garage, I have my sun room back. Unfortunately, since that exercise equipment has been freed from the confines of all the storage, I no longer have an excuse not to use it.
I spent the morning giving the room a thorough cleaning, and have mostly reclaimed it. The only thing still in the house that doesn’t belong there is my battery-operated lawn mower. (Though maybe I’m wrong here? Maybe all houses need an inside lawn mower?) Because of the steep drop out the back door, I can’t move the mower to the garage by myself, so next time the builders come, I’ll ask them to do it. And then, the room really will be mine again.
After that cleaning stint, I went out to the yard to pull weeds. It’s not a chore I particularly like doing. The problem isn’t that it’s a never-ending job or that it’s hard work or that it seems futile. The problem is that I can’t help wondering who am I to decide what plants get to live and what have to die. But I overcome my nicety and do what has to be done. For a while, anyway, until exhaustion sets in.
The tarot card I dealt myself for study today was the seven of pentacles. Some readers say the card means loss and disappointment. Others say it’s about efforts that come to nothing. Still others mention perseverance and planning, as well as affirming my long-term vision and helping to show that I am not confined to seeing results in the short term. Sounds like weed-digging, doesn’t it? I’d expected more from my Tarot studies than such mundanities.
Still, the mundanities — sorting and cleaning and weed pulling — all help to create a better home and garden (and garage!) for me.
I accidentally made a new friend today. The woman is a friend of a friend, and she’s taking on a full time (as in 24 hours a day, seven days a week) caregiving job, so she’s looking for someone to fill in a few hours a week to give her a break. Anyone who has been in such a position knows that no matter how much you love a person, those breaks are very much needed. The problem, from what I understand, is that there are too few hours to really tempt someone who needs work, and too many hours for those who need just a bit of money because the extra income might jeopardize their main income. Somehow, my name got bandied about. At first, I said no because . . . well, because I’m out of the habit of saying yes, which has been The Bob’s main effect on me.
As I got to thinking about the request, I realized it would be good to have a bit of income to help fund some of my house renewal projects. (I just contracted for a few tons of rocks, both ornamental and practical — some will go around the house and garage to protect the foundations, some will be used to create pathways about my micro estate to make walking safer in my old age, and some will be used for a driveway.)
Even more than that, I don’t see myself going back to the senior center to just hang around once the restrictions are loosened (although I really enjoy being around most of the people I met there, I don’t especially enjoy playing games, which was our main activity), and except for the Art Guild, I don’t see myself continuing with the rest of my volunteer activities. In addition, one of these days, the contractors will be finished with all the projects that we’ve slated, and then what? Total isolation forever? I don’t see that, either.
So I told the caregiver I was willing to take the job. She stopped by today to interview me, and we really hit it off. When she found out this is my forever home, she was delighted because that meant I would always be a friend. She also approved of all that I’m doing to help with accessibility in my old age. And she said she’d be willing to be my caregiver if it ever got to that point. (She’s the second person who has offered her services. I’m not really sure what that says about me. Maybe that I really am as old as I am rather than as old as I think I am?)
One thing that’s really fun about meeting someone from a small town, especially one who has lived here all her life, is that she knows everyone I know. I think she was a bit surprised because apparently, the people I’ve become closet too are among the best the town has to offer. Special people, for sure! And somehow they gravitated toward me. Pulled in by my tractor beam of charm, no doubt. I’m only being halfway facetious with that last comment because it truly is astonishing how many really good friends I’ve made in the short time I’ve been here.
And now I’ve made another.
The final decision about the job isn’t hers, though her recommendation will be given great weight. I still have to meet the woman I will be caring for (visiting with?). And I will need to talk to the daughter. (Though that might not be necessary, because all she has to do is google me or check out this blog, and she’ll know more about me than I even know.)
But I don’t see that they will have a problem with me. I mean, what’s not to like, right? Admittedly, I might sound cold, looking at the job from a practical angle rather than a personal one, but I haven’t met the woman yet, and even if I had, I wouldn’t want to invade her privacy by talking about her. Though I will say, she sounds like an interesting woman, has lived here all her life, and knows (figuratively speaking) where all the bodies are buried. We also have mutual friends, and since I won’t know any of her stories, I’ll be a new audience, so there should be plenty to talk about. And oh! She lives just a couple of blocks away. How perfect is that?
We’ll see what happens this weekend when I meet her. If nothing else, I’ll make another new friend.
Sometimes I worry that when talking about my house I come across as smug or supercilious or boastful rather than grateful and very lucky. So many people have a hard time keeping a roof over their head, especially now when eviction restrictions have been lifted. Even in the best of times, too many people are homeless and luckless, so it’s perhaps crass to write about my wonderful new life in my lovely little house. And yet, it is my life. My blog. My words. And especially — and always — it’s my gratitude to those who helped make it happen.
For so long, I lived on the edge — not homeless because I always had a room to rent or a place to stay, but not secure, either. One friend even made me promise that if I ever became homeless, I would go stay with her, which was truly a generous offer.
Somehow, though, I slipped through a crack, and instead of the worst happening, the best did. It seems odd, but to find a house, I had to move to a place that seemed on the edge of nowhere, and yet, now that I’m here, I’m right in the middle of . . . somewhere.
Even better, it’s exactly where I want to be.
I was talking to a new friend the other day (though after a year, I suppose I don’t need to add the “new” anymore). She mentioned that housing prices were going up around here, which means the crack in the universe that allowed me to find a home — a forever home, not just a room in someone’s house — really was just a crack. I could barely afford this house; anything more would have been prohibitive.
But here I am.
It’s ironic (and mystical) that Jeff’s death ten years ago blew my life apart, and my homeless brother’s death two years ago somehow glued it back together. If nothing else, my brother’s death put into motion all the gears that needed to move to open the crack that allowed me to slip through and into a home of my own. Then there is my father’s contribution. When he died, he left behind the small legacy that allowed me to follow through where the other two pushed me.
(I like the symmetry of the three, but in my case, there is a fourth person who was instrumental to getting me here — the brother who helped with all the logistics and practicalities.)
This scenario seems so mythic and mythological but then perhaps all lives can be seen in mythic and mythological terms if we tell ourselves the right stories.
And that is the story I am telling myself.
I tend to forget that there is another aspect to the story of how I got here — all the long years of pain and loneliness and angst that accompanied me on my journey from the “then” to the “now.” Without all the changes grief brought, I wouldn’t be this homefull person, not at all smug, but rather accepting of my good fortune and almost giddily grateful for the experience.
I went to the grocery store today. It’s not so much that I needed things, but I wanted to start my car. It’s been so hot, that even with the car being snug in its own little house, I thought it should be exercised. And oh! What a joy! No disconnecting all the buckles that hold on the car cover, no folding up the cover and stowing it before I could even get into the bug. All I had to do was unlock the garage, push a button to open the door and presto! Magic.
When I first found out the old garage would have to come down, I felt silly realizing a new garage would cost more that the car is worth, but then, there really is no price to be put on the freedom having a vehicle gives a person in our wheeled world. Now that the money is spent, I’m glad I had to do it — if the old garage had been fixed, I wouldn’t have my magic door. And I don’t begrudge spending my travel fund on the garage. As great as one last epic trip would have been, it doesn’t compare to the convenience of a garage, especially as I get older and feebler.
But I didn’t come here to write a paean to the garage gods. A sign on the door of the grocery store geared to us peons prompted this post.
According to the sign, by Colorado law, all peons (regular folks, not people engaged in a public safety role such as law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel) over the age of ten must wear a mask when in public places. The only exception is if there is a medical reason why a person can’t wear a mask. But no one — not individuals, store workers or “the authorities” are allowed to question those without as mask as to their medical condition, so (again according to the sign) the assumption is that those without a mask have such a condition.
Huh? What sort of law is that? We peons have to wear a mask but if we don’t wear a mask, people are supposed to assume we don’t have to wear one? Which means that despite the law, no one has to wear a mask since no one can question why a person isn’t wearing one. Still, wearing a mask is the law, and even if it weren’t, in these Bob days, it’s the safe and courteous thing to do. Besides, it’s not something I want to fight about.
The other half of this law requiring people to wear masks also requires people to remove the mask if someone needs to verify who they are, because even a half-mask can mask a person. The person behind me in line wasn’t anyone I recognized, but when he said, “Hello, Ms. Pat,” I recognized his voice — he was the builder, a person I’ve seen almost every day for the past few weeks.
I found it interesting that as soon as I got out of the store, I removed the mask and when he left, so did he, though some people didn’t. Luckily, we’re not forced to wear masks outside unless that “outside” is a public place like a bus stop. And, even though people wear masks while driving alone, it’s not required. (Wearing a mask when one is alone seems silly to me because I don’t think you can give yourself The Bob, but what do I know.)
Even if it were required to wear masks out walking, it wouldn’t matter. With a single code enforcer in town, there’d be no one to enforce the law anyway.
Come to think of it, I should have stuck with the paean to my garage. It’s a lot less complicated than trying to make sense of this law, that’s for sure.
Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One debunks many established beliefs about what grief is, explains how it affects those left behind, and shows how to adjust to a world that no longer contains the loved one. “It is exactly what folk need to read who are grieving.”(Leesa Heely Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator ).
Available online wherever books and ebooks are sold.
Grief: The Great Yearning is not a how-to but a how-done, a compilation of letters, blog posts, and journal entries Pat Bertram wrote while struggling to survive her first year of grief. This is an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.
While sorting through her deceased husband’s effects, Amanda is shocked to discover a gun and the photo of an unknown girl who resembles their daughter. After dedicating her life to David and his vocation as a pastor, the evidence that her devout husband kept secrets devastates Amanda. But Amanda has secrets of her own. . .
When Pat’s adult dance classmates discover she is a published author, the women suggest she write a mystery featuring the studio and its aging students. One sweet older lady laughingly volunteers to be the victim, and the others offer suggestions to jazz up the story. Pat starts writing, and then . . . the murders begin.
Thirty-seven years after being abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Colorado, Becka Johnson returns to try to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? And why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen?
When twenty-five-year-old Mary Stuart learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents -- grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born -- she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead.
In quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable, bio-engineered disease, investigative reporter Greg Pullman risks everything to discover the truth: Who unleashed the deadly organism? And why?
Bob Stark returns to Denver after 18 years in SE Asia to discover that the mother he buried before he left is dead again. At her new funeral, he sees . . . himself. Is his other self a hoaxer, or is something more sinister going on?