I thought this over several times before posting this story as I didn't know what the reaction was going to be. But as usual, I would like to know what my fellow posters think. As usual, my story is long because I have added explanations. So here is my story:
Recent stories on this site got me remembering a case that I dealt with as a social worker. Also, the note by Minimom on the story "Ghostly Smell", made me feel sad at the outcome of this case. The note by Minimom was, "I think that these intense emotional bonds act almost like a magnet, drawing them to you. When my ex died he was in Florida and I was in Colorado and I knew he wasn't well but had no idea he was terminal. Even though we had gone on to marry others we still loved and cared for each other, we also spoke on the phone when we could. That kept the bond strong. The very last thing he said to me was that he always had and always would love me. The feeling was mutual."
I have changed the names to protect the people involved. As mentioned above, when I was working as a social worker, I dealt with a case where the father of the child had come to us to help him find a new home for his child. Patrick was a caring father who loved his son, John but he was terminally ill with cancer and doctors had given him only 6 months to live. Patrick was about 35 years old and his son, John was about 7 years old when I was assigned their case.
As I got to know Patrick, we became fast friends and I felt left like we had a long lost connect. It felt like he was a big brother and it didn't hurt that Patrick had the nicest Irish accent. When I was training to become a social worker, I was told to avoid becoming emotionally involved because it will be hard for us in the end but with Patrick and John, it was different and difficult not to get invested. Patrick told me that he had come from Ireland to Canada to find a better way of life about 15 years ago. He said that he fell in love with the country and also fell in love with a beautiful Mexican lady. They dated for a while and got married. Even though there were lots of people who were happy for them and their marriage, there were people who didn't want them getting married including his ex - wife's uncle and brother. In the end, they ended up separating and going their own separate ways (even though they loved each other). Though out the years, they did keep in touch and Patrick confided in me that he should have fought harder to keep Maria and that was one of his regrets. I had to remind Patrick that if they didn't go their separate ways, he wouldn't have a gorgeous and polite little boy like John.
As a social worker, I did my job in trying to find a permanent home for John after Patrick passed but I became a friend to Patrick and John and as a friend I helped emotionally (even though, many times, I wanted to break down and cry for what Patrick was going though and to see John preparing for his father's dead. But I didn't do that because it would have been a dishonour to Patrick's strength and outlook on life. He didn't hate the world or God for what happened to him). As time went on, my family got to know Patrick and John. But to the every end, I couldn't find a permanent placement for John.
Patrick died peacefully in his sleep on July 5, 2006. Patrick spent celebrating Canada's Day weekend (July 1st) with John, then on the third he went into the hospital for his outpatient treatment and went to sleep and never woke up.
The night before I found out that Patrick died in his sleep, I saw him in my sleep. (Like my mother and grandmother, I could see ghosts/spirits in my dreams and through feelings). In the dream, I saw that he had the healthy glow of a handsome Irish guy and he was smiling. He told me that he had come to trust me in the time he has known me and that I would know what to do with John. He also told me that he had complete trust in me and that he knew I would never fail him. Then he was gone. I finally broke down and started crying when I felt this comfort come over me. It was so peacefully, it felt like someone giving me a bear hug. I just knew it was Patrick. My room is next to my parents' room and my mom must have heard me crying and she came into my room and woke me up. I looked at her and told her that Patrick died. In the morning, Patrick's lawyer called to say that he had passed.
At the time of Patrick's dead, John was staying with his Godparents and I was constantly there to make sure he was okay and to help with the preparation of Patrick's funeral. Looking back, I didn't know how I held it together but I did that just for John. I knew that it didn't do anybody any good if the social worker assigned to helping John and Patrick broke down.
John's godparents were an older couple and I knew that it was difficult for them to take of John on a regular basis, so I had filled out paper work to have John stay with me and my family. I seriously thought that I would face a lot of hurdles for that to happened but I later found out that Patrick had listed me as one of the care givers for John after John's godparents in his will (I was downright floored by this because I didn't expect that to happen). Anyways, John was staying with me when he told me that the morning that his father died, he heard his father waking him up by saying, "Wake up buddy, life's too short to sleep." (That's what he said to John every morning, according to John). I took turns taking care of John between his godparents while I found a permanent place for him to live.
Patrick didn't want John growing up with his 2nd ex - wife (and John's mother) as he believed that John wouldn't have a stable home with her. I didn't understand why when Patrick told me this. Patrick only told me that his ex-chose career over family and left. By law, I had contacted John's mother and when I did I got the shock of my life. His mother didn't want him and gave up her parental rights because she didn't want to settle down. She was enjoying her journalism career. I finally did find someone to adopt John. It was Maria, Patrick's 1st ex - wife. Patrick had grown up as a Catholic and one of the conditions after he passed was that John still attends church every Sunday. Usually, it is John's godparents that take him to church but for some reason they couldn't take him so I took him. I sat in the back while John went to the front for the mass. While I was sitting there, I prayed in my own way for a miracle, sign, or anything to guide me to help John because at that time, I started getting a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that I wasn't going to able fill Patrick's wish to place John in a home where he would feel safe and at the same time have room to grow. I don't know if it was the atmosphere of the church or if it were a sign but when I opened my eyes, the first thing I heard was someone in the church calling out to a Maria. That name stuck with me for the rest of the day. It was the end of the day, when I realized why the name Maria stuck with me. Maria was name of Patrick's 1st ex - wife. I knew that they separated but still loved each other. I knew it was farfetched and I didn't know whether it would be a dead end but I knew I had to try. I was able to track down Maria with difficult hiccups along the way and as they say got the ball rolling. I explained to Maria that Patrick had died of cancer and that he left behind little John and that I was left responsibility to find him a home as his mother didn't want him.
Maria broke down and then asked me when Patrick died and when I mentioned the date, she started crying uncontrollable. When she finally calmed down, she explained that the past couple of months, she started thinking about Patrick and was wondering how he was doing. Since she lost contact with Patrick, she started looking for him to see if there was a possibility of getting back with him because in her own words "I finally grew a spine and told my uncle and brother to mind their own business." The day Patrick died, she felt a sense of grief for a while and the felt calm like someone was hugging her and felt that it was Patrick. That renewed her conviction to find Patrick because she was about to give up.
When I asked Maria if she was willing to adopt John, she said yes and we started taking the steps to file all the paperwork. I don't know how people have adopted kids but the paperwork could drive anyone insane; you need a lot of patience for it. Anyways, the adoption went though and John (although, he greatly misses his father) is now settled in his new home and happy. Maria also has respected Patrick's wish that John follow the Catholic faith and go to church on Sundays (this is made easy as Maria is also Catholic). I get to see John every once in a while and he also gets to see his godparents.
After everything had settled, I had the same warm feeling that I got from Patrick and felt a big weight come off of me. I knew and felt that Patrick was really happy where John ended up. There were a lot of cases that affected me both emotionally and physically but I think Patrick and John's case topped it.