His light was so bright, the first time I saw him, shirtless in October, smoking a cigar and laughing at my anger, I looked over at him, his laughter making me pause. Even from a distance, there was something about his eyes that made me look closer before lifting another trash bag filled with all the contents of my kitchen, and tossing it into the trash bin.

Throwing out my kitchen was transformational for me. I was throwing out my kitchen for generations of women who couldn’t be contained by a home or a traditional marriage. I was nineteen and angry and trapped.

I had spoken vows I didn’t mean just six months before.

But there was his laughter, there was his light,  his topaz blue eyes shining down on me from the steps of the townhouse next to mine.  

Four years later, after his funeral, where his son snot-cried on my thighs, where I tried to crawl into his coffin to open his mouth that had been sewn shut so I could see his gapped teeth one more time, he came to me.

I was in bed, all my friends were in the living room getting high, but I didn’t get high, so I went to take a nap.

There he was, in his whole human body –  that’s how they come to us, sometimes… the dead. So often they come in the image of who they were, in their body, because to come to us any other way might be hard for us to recognize them.  

He said, wake up, baby…before I go, I have a few things I want you to know.

I stared at his broad swimmer’s shoulders, his kind hand, gently stroking my sorrow, his legs crossed, the left over the right.

And there was that light again, the light I saw at the top of the concrete steps the first day I met him.

He told me dying was wonderful. I thought it was rude that he didn’t miss me, but he said that’s just the way it is – grief is meant for the living.  

I don’t remember everything he said to me. 

I’m lying. I remember every word he said to me, but I can’t tell you everything.

Music is the language between the worlds, he said.

Dying is like a great moment of understanding and forgiveness, he said, it’s so freeing. (You understand nobody wronged you.)

He wasn’t coming back in a body on earth, not this time.

That’s when I realized I was looking at his soul, and he had brought his soul in the image of his body. And I was still looking into his eyes, but really into his soul.

He said in other universes we just take on a full grown body.

Show me what you look like now, I said.

He said that wasn’t allowed. 

(Tell them I won’t be frightened).

And just like that, before my eyes, my beloved morphed into another being – human-like, with a head and arms and legs and a torso. – not young, not old as we define years. A head that was larger on top. His eyes were so different, and yet I recognized him completely through his eyes.

Because the same light came out of them, even though they were larger, and wrapped around to the side of the head.

That’s when he told me every religion has it mostly wrong – about the universe and God. 

Did my dead atheist boyfriend just use the word GOD?

But they are also all right about one thing, he smiled.

But just like that he was gone.

Not a day that goes by when I don’t see his eyes, both sets of them, or think about the One Thing.

Hafiz said, “when no one is looking and I want to kiss God, I just lift my own hand to my mouth.”

Author Jan Phillips said, “when we drop our illusions of separateness and the biases of programmed thinking that obscures our mystical interconnectedness, the transcendent dimensions of our lives begin to emerge.”

If God is the man standing on a steps smoking a cigar, he’s also the man next door who kicks his dogs when they bark too long. They are the orange Albezia trees in full bloom and the 140 pound boar who stares me down in Sea Cliff.

God is me.

God is you.

Lift your hand, feel your heartbeat, kiss your fingers and say hello.

And the next time you dare to look directly into anyone’s eyes, know that they contain 137 million photoreceptors and more than one billion parts, and this is how we see each other’s souls.

And take a good long look, because Rabbi Elimelech said, “whoever does not see God in every place, does not see God in any place.”

I’d like to add this – “whoever does not see God in everyone, does not see God in anyone.”

Aloha, everyone, I see you.