So why can’t the dead counsel the living? In Blake, A Biography by Peter Ackroyd, the author writes, “Blake had told her [Catherine, the poet’s wife] that he would never leave her, and indeed she saw him continually when ‘he used to come and sit with her for two or three hours every day. He took his chair and talked to her, just as he would have done had he been alive; he advised her as to the best mode of selling his engravings.'”
Excerpted from God is in the Cracks (Black Moss Press, 2006), here’s a sample of how the podiatrist father communicates with his son who is in mourning and, indeed, seriously depressed, following his father’s death.
FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE, THE PODIATRIST COUNSELS HIS SON ON PRAYER
“How to pray?
You’re gonna need a password.
But not now. And you’re gonna see
it’s numbers, not words. Didn’t I tell you: if it’s got words,
it’s not prayer, and it’s not a password either.
So what if I’m dead? What does that matter?
You think you bury your father and that’s the end?
Schmegegge! What are you thinking, that the living
have a monopoly on life?
Give the dead some credit.
I didn’t just die, you know. Think of the preparation. A man
has to get himself ready. And what did I ask?
That you pay your respects. So light the yizkor,
light the candle. Oi!
Tear the clothes, rend the garment, I said, and that you did.
Point my feet toward the door, I said, and that you did.
God takes what He takes, son, and the body follows.
But prayer? Prayer? Where was the prayer?
Listen: God created us first the feet,
then the rest.
So? So we bow the head when we pray
to show respect. Cover the head,
where’s your yarmulke? Daven, daven,
rock back and forth… Now ask:
‘Who am I? Who am I?
What am I here for?’
These are the things you ask,
but this is not prayer.
It’s what you need to know before you start.
Why are we here? We’re here to mend the world.
Just remember, God doesn’t answer prayers.
So don’t ask.
Don’t ask for anything.
Shopping is shopping. Prayer is prayer.
Don’t confuse the two.”