When I think about the notion of parallel universes, it is not my own life but those of the dead who fascinate me.
How many of our dead loved ones are alive in other worlds?
I was four years old when my dad’s cousin passed away from leukemia. Kelly was 33 and died just after my younger sister was born. I remember her, despite being so young when she was gone.
Some days when the sun hits my skin and the breeze ruffles my hair, I feel the brush of the parallel universe in which Kelly lived. I see her walking with me through the woods to the property she grew up on. We are not going to visit her grave because it doesn’t exist. Instead, she shows me her favourite trees and the rocks where she sat to watch the sunset.
I hear her singing the campfire songs that her mother Lynn taught us all. We sit side by side by the fire and watch sun-darkened hands strum the guitar. It’s the only time I remember seeing Lynn smile. I hear Kelly speaking at Lynn’s funeral. In this universe, Kelly may have survived the cancer but I can’t imagine a scenario in which Lynn did.
I feel her hands guiding mine. Teaching me how to fold origami cranes for the love of the paper beneath my fingers, not as a wish to the stars to keep Kelly with us. I still inherit the calligraphy set that she left for me.
This time her living hands gifted it into mine.
I smell the dinners Kelly cooks when I come to visit her and her partner, Brian. The dog and I cuddle on the floor, our mouths watering as we snuggle in a house filled with love. While we eat, the dog sits at her feet. We talk about books and music, about the ocean and the trees.
I taste the salt on my lips as we swim in the ocean that calls to us both. Kelly’s hair is not the short, post-chemo regrowth I remember but long, dark, and glistening in the sun. We laugh so hard the waves catch us off guard and we spit out the seawater that splashes in our open mouths.
Some days I forget that she died because I can feel her in every atom of my body. That parallel universe hugs me close and I know that somewhere, embedded in the dark matter that surrounds us, she lived.
Kelly lived a long and loving existence. When her end does come, I will be there in that universe too. I will always be with her, as she has always been with me. Here and everywhere.
I know that when I whisper into the wind and tell her, “I feel you, I love you, I miss you,” she can hear me.