Foreshadowing: It’s a literary device where a writer gives a hint early in a story about events that will happen later on. Sometime it’s subtle, like a tickle in the throat that gradually and progressively turns into coughing up blood and ends in death from consumption. Or, in another case, maybe we’re told from the very beginning that the marriage is over, but first let’s hear about how it all started.
In real life, some people are foreshadowers by nature, and others can’t be bothered with such.
My brother died about 26 years ago, the same year I got married. He was more than a decade older than I was–but still young, in his 30s–and he lived across the country on the west coast.
His had had some health problems, but we thought he was well on the road to overcoming them. So when I picked up the ringing telephone and said, “Hello,” the last thing I expected to hear in return was his wife’s voice, with no warning, saying, “Alan is dead.” The first reaction was disbelief, followed immediately by the realization that she would never joke about something like that. My mother was standing near and knew to take the phone from my hand, though I didn’t want to give it to her. Fortunately, there was a chair nearby, as she slumped into it like a ragdoll upon hearing the news for herself.
In the immediate aftermath, I wondered if maybe that could have been handled a little better. I thought, if that had been me, I would have applied some Vaseline, would have started by saying, “I’m sorry, I have bad news.” In time, of course, I realized that I was no one to judge the actions of a freshly-widowed women with a toddler, that no amount of grease could dull the force of the initial shock.
As for my marriage, it lies in shambles, 26 years later almost to the day of my brother’s death. Separation is imminent. Years ago, I wondered if getting married within months of the funeral was a bad omen, but this is not a work of fiction. One thing has nothing to do with the other, except that in each case, these things happen, and life goes on.
© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2011