Submitted by Joe Moscon
November 2011

Sue_at_gardenIt had been almost two months since Joe’s wife Sue had passed. Solitude had taken a new identity, one similar to the infamous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some days it was a warm recollection of all the good times with his wife. But then other days, the solitude weighed so heavy on him that it threatened his very sanity. He knew that being alone after all these years would just take time to grow accustomed to. He was eternally grateful for her love and encouragement being privileged enough to have received several signs. They were always at difficult times when he really longed for her presence. But try as he might, moving forward with his life was proving to be a daunting task.

One way Joe held on to his sanity was to continue with everyday routines as he had for so many years. Like slipping on a pair of well-worn shoes, it fit him comfortably. Although sadness lingered around him, especially at home, keeping active helped minimize the pain of her absence. One evening Joe was sitting at home doing nothing specific, his sole companions their three dogs. By ten o’clock he was tired and ready to go to bed. Climbing to his feet he proceeded to the door. He always made his rounds inside and out the house before retiring for the night. The truck was locked up tight but he checked to make sure. Then he did a visual sweep of the carport, including the patio table he and Sue used to sit at every morning. Joe always made sure nothing was left that could blow away during the night. Satisfied all was in order he went back in the house and locked the door. Last on his list was to check on the dogs, then he was off to bed.

Joe and Sue had a specific ritual for greeting each day. Since he was the first to awake around 5:30 am, it was his job to start the coffee. Then he would head outside to the patio table for some alone time. When Sue got up her coffee was ready and she would join her husband outside with a single cigarette. They would discuss the day ahead then eventually get moving. So this morning was no different from all the others except that he was alone. He made his coffee and proceeded outside. Walking toward the table he stopped in his tracks. Something didn’t feel right. He couldn’t put his finger on it immediately. Could something be in there hiding? He glanced around for a stray raccoon or skunk but as he surveyed the carport area his eyes fell on the table. There it was. On Sue’s side of the table sat a single cigarette.

Now Joe knew it was not there when he checked last night. Living somewhat secluded in the country it was just impossible that someone else had left it there. With disbelief he approached the table and picked it up. Sue had passed nearly two months ago yet this cigarette was really fresh. Completely filled with amazement there could be no other explanation for Joe except that Sue had put the cigarette there. Maybe it was just her way of letting him know she was still with him. For sentimental reasons and future inspiration Joe reverently tucked the cigarette in between pages of her journal for safe keeping.

It wasn’t long before their youngest son Luke arrived at the house. Shortly after that Joe’s employees arrived. He sent Luke to retrieve his paperwork out of the shop from the previous day and also gave him the task of washing the truck. Not really expecting answers Joe began questioning his men about the single cigarette he had found that morning. As he suspected none of them knew anything about it. So he shared his story to their amazement and after discussing it a while he sent them off with a full day of work scheduled. By that time Luke had finished with the truck and reported back to his dad.

As Joe and his son climbed into the truck he was surprised to see yet another single cigarette laying on the console. He grabbed it and was just about to throw it out when Luke cried out, “Stop!” Joe asked him why and his son replied, “It’s one of Mom’s! Can I keep it?” Joe acknowledged it was Sue’s but he wanted to know where it had come from. Luke told his father it was the strangest thing. When he went to get the paperwork he had placed on his father’s desk the night before he saw it sitting on top. Joe then asked, “Was it by itself or was there a pack?” Luke responded that it was the only one there. Determined to get to the bottom of these sudden appearances Joe had the bright idea to replay the footage from his security cameras installed in the shop.

Convinced he would finally get an answer Joe focused on the video. At the end of the day the paperwork was sitting right where Luke had left it and there was no cigarette. Then the lights went off as the shop was locked up. Fast forward to the next morning as the lights were turned on and sure enough there it was sitting atop the paperwork. No one had entered the shop the entire time. Seeing how much it meant to him, Joe decided to let his son keep the cigarette. Solidly convinced his wife had once again displayed her love and commitment not only for him but for their son as well, Joe could do nothing but smile to himself. He couldn’t explain the strange things that had happened but he did accept and believe his Sue was behind it all. Her spirit and her love would never be far away and that was a comforting lift for his saddened heart.