Telephone – 1990s
A Nebulous Number of Days of Atomity and Memory
Phone from the Twilight Zone
I still have a land line. Not only do I still have a land line, but I still have a phone with a built-in analogue answering machine. The only calls I tend to receive on this device are from telemarketers, but I’m still loathe to give up the tether. First of all, I haven’t fully surrendered the experience of the world’s second most widespread blackout in history, in 2003, when Torontonians and 55 million others were without power for two days. Thanks to this land line, I was able to communicate with family members who also had land lines and, in addition, to pass on messages from my friends (whose cell phones had died and had no means to recharge them), to their families. The expense of continuing to carry this service based on my irrational fear doesn’t cost me much, but I could be donating the money instead. But there’s a second reason I hold onto this old phone. It’s a paranormal phone.
When I lost my father almost nine years ago, I was struggling considerably with my grief. This profound loss was new to me and what had made it even more excruciating was the fact that my father passed due to complications arising after a stroke, and for the last six weeks of his life, as he lay hospitalized and partially paralyzed, he was unable to speak. He departed without being able to verbalize his thoughts or goodbyes.
While floundering in agony after his transition, I received a random email from an American medium who was coming to Toronto to do a few days of private and group readings. I had been watching The Long Island Medium for a year or more and I had come to believe that souls who have crossed to the other side can communicate with us. Even though I had never heard of this specific medium from whom I had received the email, I thought, what did I have to lose? The cost for a group session was minimal and even if she was a charlatan, it could still be an intriguing experience. I even managed to talk a friend into coming with me and he invited a friend as well.
It turned out to be a bewildering encounter. My father didn’t come through in the reading and I was dreadfully disappointed. But my friend’s father did. His father had passed several decades ago, so this caught my friend completely off guard, especially since the two had had a troubled relationship. But there was another surprise in store for me that evening. Someone I had met at a yoga retreat, and who lived thousands of miles away, had recently lost a son under tragic circumstances. Although I had never met the son, and just barely knew his father, the son came through and I was given the responsibility of passing on a message. I did so reluctantly, at risk of being thought of as odd, to say the least, but I felt a responsibility to do so, nevertheless.
Despite there being no communication from my own father, the medium shared information that made much more sense long after that unsettling evening. She disclosed that messages that come through to her are for those who need the deepest healing, for those in the greatest distress. She also divulged that there are so many different ways transitioned souls make their presence known to their loved ones including visitations in dreams, through scents, but most commonly via electrical disruptions. In addition, souls on the other side choose a means of communication that specifically resonates or will make the most sense to their loved one.
My ears perked up when I heard this information because there were a few novel phenomena in my life that had attracted my notice, but that I was unable to explain. The first was a lamp whose light bulb was constantly dimming and surging back to full luminosity, even though I replaced the bulb a few times. One of the other things was that my phone, my 1990s phone, had started to emit constant static…again. I had remembered that the first time my phone ever started buzzing was after the passing of one of my elderly yoga students. At that moment in time, I thought it was just a coincidence and shrugged it off because the static simply stopped after a month or so.
When the static started again after my father’s passing, I began to pay much more attention to it. But I also couldn’t help but be reminded of an old Twilight Zone episode I had seen as a child, titled Night Call, in which an elderly woman, receives persistent phone calls from an anonymous caller. I’m not elderly (but I’m no spring chicken), and I wasn’t receiving actual phone calls. But in this Twilight Zone adaptation of a short story, it turned out that it wasn’t technologically possible for the woman to have been receiving phone calls because the lines had gone down during a bad storm…over a cemetery. That ending always haunted me…and I was now being ‘haunted’ in a different kind of way.
I started noticing patterns with the static. At first, it was consistent, buzzing almost all the time and, frankly, was rather annoying – and conspicuous. Subsequently, it would stop and restart at various times. It finally dawned on me that the static resumed every time I was preparing to visit my mother and brothers. Then one day, perhaps a year later, the static just ceased, as it had many months after my yoga student had passed. The white noise has never returned.
I was puzzled and very forlorn. I felt like I had been abandoned by my father once again – first by his death, then by ending his other-worldly communication with me. But another matter that the medium had mentioned at her event was that the first task of a soul when it crosses over is to reassure its loved ones that it is still with us. And when the soul is satisfied that we, in the Earth school, have accepted the transition and are able to move forward with our lives, the soul moves on to its own soul lessons.
I’ve had very different experiences with communications from the other side with the passing of my elder brother and my mother, but I will save those stories for another time. But it is perhaps a bit more clear why, despite the limited number of surfaces I have within my tiny footprint, and regardless of the fact that I have failed to update the quick-dial buttons on the phone (they are still programmed for people with whom I have not been in touch for decades or who have passed), I refuse to give up the ghost and relinquish this almost 30-year-old phone. In fact, after writing this piece, I’m almost tempted to press each of the speed-dial numbers to see what happens or if I reach anyone. Perhaps I’ve had direct lines to the other side all this time!