I used to hope every year, around the time of the anniversary of Ed’s death, that he’d come back for a visit. This time, as though summoned, he came back a few nights ago during the 6th anniversary of his funeral, which happened seven days after he passed away. We sat in a fully furnished room I didn’t recognize, and out of nowhere came my childhood pet Willie. Willie was my turquoise parakeet, purchased from a private breeder in Pacifica early in my elementary school years. He was just five weeks old when we took him home. He was my little pride and joy; I took care of him fully on my own, feeding and cleaning him and his cage. We tamed him and taught him to speak a number of words, which was impressive given his small size. He passed away when he was about seven years old, when I was in seventh grade. Due to his dangerous curiosity and finding things in our house that had lead, he ate his way to his death, causing a massive accumulation of lead in his tiny tummy. This spurred a cancer growth in him that ultimately ended his little life. I was shocked to see him flying toward me. To see if this was all real (at least, “real” in my dream), and to verify that it was really him, I stood up and ran to the other side of the room, put my arm out, and said, “Willie, come here!”
He recognized his name immediately and flew over to me, landing on my forearm. He then climbed his way up my arm to my shoulder, affectionately nipping the tip of my ear. This was really my little parakeet. It had been too long since I’d last seen him.
“Yep, it’s Willie,” Ed said, staring over at Willie’s little face. “Even after he’s died, he still doesn’t care about me and prefers you.”
Ed used to occasionally taunt Willie, and Willie did not particularly like him very much. He was only attracted to him in the house if my dad or I were not in the room. Then, he’d fly to Ed.
“Do you see him where you are?” I asked him. “Since you’re both dead, do you ever run into him?”
Ed: “Not really. But after you die, it’s not like your relationships get better. They pretty much stay the same with the same people. Where we are, relationships don’t improve or change.”
He seemed so solemn when he said this, as though there was some hint of sadness or regret in his voice. I couldn’t quite understand it.
I didn’t know what to say to him. I was still shocked we were even together, discussing how he and my childhood pet are dead.
“I miss you,” I said to him, looking over at his face. It’s as though all his acne had cleared up and he had perfect skin. Maybe that’s what death does to you.
He put his head in his hands and wouldn’t look at me. “I know… I know,” he said, nearly inaudible. “I can’t do anything for you anymore.”
Then, I woke up. I felt a little distraught, wondering where the heck I was and what just happened. Did I really see Ed, see Willie, in the same place at the same time? Was it real?
I don’t know what any of that meant. But it just made me feel even worse. At least I got to see the both of them again.