The overhead lights in the hallway started flickering again a couple of weeks ago. This hasn’t happened in a while, not a long while. When Rick first died, the ceiling lights in the kitchen started to flicker one night. I was washing dishes and could see them flickering out of the corner of my eye, but, oddly, when I looked in the reflection in the window above my sink, I couldn’t see it. I glanced to the side again, and yeah they were flickering. I looked in the window, no they weren’t. And somehow, after reading stories written by many widows who talked about signs from their husbands, I came to believe that it was Rick. That whatever electrical current of life had run through him, was now trying to signal to me from beyond.

And at first, I was filled with happiness thinking (deluding myself?) that he was near. Then, I wanted more. I wanted badly for him to give me more of a sign, to somehow try to tell me what he wanted to say. But eventually, I gave up on that idea. I knew I’d never get any special message. I knew I was lucky simply to feel that he was nearby, that I could feel his presence in the room. So, whenever the lights in my house flickered, I just grew comfortable with it, and enjoyed the sensation that he loved me and watched over me. And I began a little routine. Anytime the lights started to flicker, I’d just say, “Hi honey. I missed you.” And I’d think about him and I’d picture the little light flickers as his way of saying, “hi” back.

After about a year or so, it didn’t seem to happen as much anymore. In fact, I almost forgot about it until a couple weeks ago, when those hallway lights started to flicker. And after the surprise of it, I said, “Hi honey, I’m so glad you came back.” And felt that warm glow that the man I loved may be here with me, just for a bit.

Should I go to a psych ward right now? Or should I just claim the stresses of the day as the cause? Whatever the reason – delusion or mystery of the universe – I like hearing from him.

I’ve mulled over where he is, now that he’s no longer alive. I know he’s somewhere, but I don’t believe in the traditional heaven. I saw a movie called “Ghost Story,” where the husband died and his ghost stayed in the home he had shared with his wife – and in the same spot where the house eventually no longer stood – for eternity. For eternity, he just wandered around the house, watching his beloved. He watched her grieve. He watched her begin to recover and resume her life alone. He watched her date a new man. He watched and he waited and he seemed to be grieving himself, as well…sorrow over not being able to touch her, love her, and communicate that love to her.

And after watching that movie, with that very sad ghost, I began to hate the idea that the flickering lights were Rick, because I want him to enjoy wherever he is, not watch me walking around sobbing. It did inspire me to pull myself together, if not for my own sake, for his. Because I knew if he IS watching, he’d want me to be living and loving and enjoying the life that he no longer can partake in.

I hate to think that he’s been hanging around watching me all the time for this past 2 1/2 years. That would be pretty awful. I envision him on a beach by a bonfire, waiting for me, staring out at the lake with a glass of wine in his hand, empty glass sitting beside him – my glass – as he waits for me. But, sure, it would also be nice for him to drop around and see me now and then, maybe check up on how I’m doing and remind me of how much he loved me.

I do wonder why he’s come back now. My life is pretty good. I have lots of things going on. I have two dates coming up this weekend with new men I met online. Plus, I’m still seeing another one – albeit long distance by FaceTime. I kind of wonder if Rick came back because I almost made a big mistake falling for a man a little more than a week ago. It may have been right about that time when the lights began to flicker – or is that just my imagination? (As all of this “communication from beyond” might honestly actually be.) I wonder, though, was Rick trying to warn me? Whether he was or not, after beginning to become infatuated with this man, I finally woke up to the realization I wasn’t really falling for HIM at all. I was falling for how much like Rick I thought he was.

I think it’s possible that when I went into this dating thing a couple of months ago, I just did it because I’m “supposed to.” I’ve made a new life for myself. It’s been more than two years that I’ve been a widow. This is just a natural next step – to embrace my singleness and begin to go out with men. I never really thought I’d meet anybody special. I thought it would just be enjoyable to be in the company of the opposite sex, hold hands once in a while, etc., because I do miss that. But deep inside, I know I’ll never ever be as happy as I was with Rick. And I’m sure that’s the wrong attitude to take.

But then, when I met this latest guy, I started to think – wait – maybe I CAN find happiness again. Maybe I can find another special someone who has everything I like about him. Maybe I can find someone I like to spend time with – or could even fall in love with. But then – as I said – the “aha moment” came, and I realized I had been hearing things from him that I didn’t like, and they were really deal breakers, but that I was ignoring those red flags because of all his similarities to Rick. He was a talented writer, an avid reader, super intelligent, and he said so many romantic, wonderful things that reminded me of Rick, that I deluded myself into ignoring the bad.

But, as I say, I woke up – with or without the flickering lights. So I ended that little affair, and here I am forging ahead, moving on with my life. And I know now that there is no “Rick replacement” in my future, that there may be a man who I’ll love again on his own merits – or possibly I may never love another man – but I can’t go around ascribing qualities to a man that he hasn’t earned just because he has similar traits to Rick’s.

So whether or not Rick was trying to tell me something, I’ll never know. But maybe I don’t need him to send me a message. Maybe I should just enjoy the comforting feeling I get from the memories of him and his love that the flickering lights evoke. When I see those lights, I remember a man who loved me so much that I imagine him trying to reach out to me from across the bridge between life and death. And when the lights begin their rhythmic dance, I’ll feel gratitude once again for having experienced a love that special and that strong, and that, in itself, makes me one very lucky woman.


On August 13, 2017, I lost the love of my life. Rick Palmer and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary one month before he died at age 63 of complications from treatments for small cell lung cancer. He was my partner and soulmate, the love I had been looking for and finally found at age 40.

Rick was a talented writer and web designer and, in 2002, we began our own web and print design business. We worked together building the business and enjoyed traveling, writing, and playing together. Our dream was to spend our golden years together doing more of the same, but in the ten months from diagnosis to death, that dream shattered.

After Rick’s death, I quickly realized that the enormity of his loss was too much for me to handle on my own, so I began grief therapy. I also began writing through my grief in a journal of feelings, thoughts, memories, and poetry. As I navigate my new life alone, I share my journey and my efforts towards creating my “new normal” on my personal blog: The Writing Widow. I’m also on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

I recently published two books about my grief journey: my poetry book, I Wanted to Grow Old With You: A Widow's First Year of Grief in Poetry, and compilation of my blog posts A Widow's Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry - The First Year." Both books are available in print and Kindle versions on