The note he left began, “I said I’d never leave a note, but–.”  It took weeks for my eyes to let me past those first words, and once they did, I learned that he decided to “cut his losses in this life.”  Throughout the next few pages, he optimistically pondered the lives that might await him if reincarnation were real.  He promised that if we found each other again, I could be his cougar and have the “new, improved, younger model.”

The letter was folded evenly into an envelope, and his handwriting was the neatest I’d ever seen it.  I expected rushed penmanship and crumpled, tear-stained paper, but he was at peace with this decision.  The avowed atheist must have been plotting his other-worldly resurrection for some time.

In earlier years, he accused me of being an aspiring ghost, missing out on life while awaiting the tranquility of heaven, or plotting spectral jaunts around cities I never got to see in life.  I was eventually convinced by his logic, so we made sure to see as much of the world and each other as we could.  Nevertheless, I would have appreciated some warning about my mentor’s more recent revelations.

I don’t really believe that he’s out there anywhere.  Yet if I recognize a smile with teeth that look too large for the face they inhabit, my stare lingers longer than it should.  When I fall asleep at night, I leave my hand open for any phantom palm that may be looking for a place to rest.  After awhile, I feel my own pulse throbbing in my hand and make believe it’s his.