Remember when how you FELT was the biggest part of you? When you had a feeling and no matter what your mind said you trusted your gut more? My grandmother left Germany in 1931 on such a feeling. It s not going to be good for jews here anymore, she said . And she sent her husband to America and then a year later when he had found a job she joined him with her two children; my mother and my uncle.
I always prided myself on that part of me that was like her. When my friends showed off their family heirlooms, I’d joke, no jewels, but I did get my grandmothers intuition. There was nothing funny about it. I really have been able to base my most important decisions not on facts but always on feelings.
I remember being in a coffee shop when I heard a five year old say mommy how come you and daddy were fighting last night ? And the mother quickly said oh we weren’t fighting honey, that was the TV. And then she did the weirdest thing; She winked at me as if we were in this conspiracy together.. I know about little white lies to save kids from worrying but I also know what those lies do to a kids natural ability to understand their surroundings. Intuition gets worn down at different times for different people. But mine was always strong.
I’ve had four deaths of people close to me in the last two weeks and somehow I didn’t draw on those special powers of instinctive knowing .
The first one was a young friend who calls me about once every five months for a catch up chat. A week ago he called while I was watching my favorite tv show and even though I heard his message I didn’t pick up. I’ll call him back tomorrow, I planned. But I didn’t get to it the next day. Or the next. And even though his face flashed in front of me two times, I still didn’t pay attention. He’ll call back. We just talked a few weeks ago. What more could we possibly say to each other? I rationalize my unconscious behavior. And then his sister texted me that he’d had a heart attack in line at the bank. And died. At 47 . And I never called him back. I had spent more time thinking about calling him back than if I had just picked up the f***ing phone and dialed. But my ultra busy life; shopping at Cronigs, watching television, reading emails - was just too time consuming to have made the effort. And now he is gone.
Ten days ago out of nowhere I heard the voice of my doctor who had delivered my son dan and I thought O I have to call Barbara and Stanley, (they are two dear friends) . But I didn’t do it. Two days after I heard him in my head, I got a call from his daughter-in- law that he had died.
But I had all those emails to read...(all that shopping )
I won’t add fuel to my broken hearted fire by describing in detail the other two losses.You get the point. Maybe they weren’t earth shattering get out of Germany before its too late kinds of premonitions but still for me they are huge wake up calls. I have always known the mind is a great servant but a lousy master. The question now is what do I do to remind myself ?
Maybe I just did.
Nancy is the author of Writing from the Heart. She teaches the Chilmark Writing Workshop.