I felt super excited and nervous about my date with an ex-boyfriend, which surprised me – since he’s dead.
Let me explain: When my ex died in 2019, I felt nothing at first. We had dated many, many years before, and even though we loved each other, we had many unresolved issues. When we left, I had hidden him in a heart-shaped time capsule, never to be opened again. Also, I did not have the bandwidth to mourn properly when I put grueling hours on a movie set.
So imagine my surprise when more than a year after his death, I found some of his songs on the internet, songs he had written about me. They beat my heart out as if it were a rainbow that bled all the colors of delayed grief.
The songs took me back to a chaotic, passionate time where we lived as young, struggling artists in his Silver Lake shoebox. The deluge of emotions I felt was so intense that a mutual friend suggested something I had never done before: try to connect with him through a psychic medium.
My session with the medium began on Instagram Live, where the medium offered a disclaimer that “The deceased you want to communicate with may not show up, so just be open to who does.”
I was worried that my ex would not show up for our supernatural date and half joked, “Should I be joked by a ghost?”
But it was no laughing matter when the media started telling me things about my ex that she could not possibly know.
“There is someone here who is thin with dark hair. He plays guitar on the floor and sings a poem for you. You lived together. “
I got chills when I sensed my ex materializing like a movie negative coming into focus.
“You have his ashes, his remains.” But wait … no, I do not. I assume his family has his ashes. Could she have meant the lyrics that are pieces of his soul? I had those remnants of him.
“Yes,” I agreed.
“You sensed his scent.”
“Yes,” I said, “is it an aftershave after death? An aphrodisiac after death?” (Humor is my coping mechanism.)
“He wants you to know he loves you,” the media said.
Rose-red memories popped up dancing the night away at the Sunset Junction Street Fair, an orange dawn as he handled my cat’s unexpected death for me, yellow coconut curry at our favorite Indian cafe.
“He’s obsessed with you.”
I felt angry, confused. Why did he not say some of it while he was still alive? How do I revive a romance with a ghost? (A premise for a TV show popped into my mind: “She found the love of her life. There’s only one problem: He’s a ghost.”) And why now? I assumed that ghosts operate at ghost time and have no boundaries.
“He wished he could have told you more before. He wants to thank you for taking care of him.”
I remembered the amount of energy I invested in the success of his band, so he could afford to take us on a long-dreamed trip to Hawaii and then settle down in a stable lifestyle. (I did not know that yet I wanted to stand on stage, make people feel things with comedy and travel to exciting places to work.)
Not-so-rosy memories emerged from the following year, when Sunset Junction seemed like a darker carnival of chaos.
That night he said, “We have to talk when we get home,” and I felt green with nausea, fear, envy, and suspicion of his hidden sexcapades. It was then that he admitted that although he had finally become sober, his previous drug abuse had resulted in a number of health complications. He said he knew he would not live as long as me and would spare me that pain. He said we should look up. Confusion blues sets in.
Over the years, we swapped places: The performer I admired settled down as I turned my tears into relationship jokes that took me around the world as a comedian and performed in Hawaii several times. I did not yet know that my subconscious goal was to remain uninvolved and avoid ever becoming vulnerable again.
“He wants you to know that he is so proud of you,” the media said. “You helped him heal.”
“What’s the big takeaway?” I asked still stunned.
“The great takeaway is, love is eternal.”
Afterwards, I felt like I had some answers, but I also had some questions.
Now that my heart had been broken by someone I had no way of being with, how was I supposed to deal with trying to get over this during a pandemic? I felt retroactively possessed by and haunted by my ex, who admittedly seemed far more present as a ghost than he ever did when we dated.
It occurred to me that someone might need to create a medium dating app or dating show – “Medium Matchmaker”? – to help people make peace with their past in order to be present for their future. (You know, because if you’re still stuck in the past, you really live in a haunted house.) Or since my exes have often become my mice and vice versa, a “muse” dating app for those who want to immortalize their love connection in art … an app similar to Meet Cute, but instead called Meet Muse.
Obviously I had something more to explore. I found a therapist who met me at Zoom and we re-treated the relationship.
Here I saw the full picture – that of a decisive, deep love that should not be more than it was. I wanted to save him and
to be saved, and instead he was removed so I could save myself. I forgave him and myself for any harm caused consciously or unconsciously and felt that I might finally be able to take off my love-safe protective vest.
I felt transformed by the gift of sorrow.
For our second date, I will ask my ex if he wants to go with me to couples therapy.
The author is an LA-based actress, comedian and creator of the podcast “Let’s Process This With Melinda Hill” and the new comedy special “Inappropriate”. She’s on Instagram @realmelindahill.
LA Affairs depicts the search for romantic love in all its glorious expression in the LA area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $ 300 for a published essay. Email [email protected] You can find submission guidelines here. You can find previous columns here.